Stop 12. The Decorators



Jennifer Tonkovich, Eugene and Clare Thaw Curator of Drawings and Prints

Morgan purchased or commissioned the works in his study and library; however, they were created or sourced by a wide range of craftsmen and dealers. The London firm Cowtan & Sons designed the furniture based on Renaissance examples in the Victoria and Albert Museum, near Morgan’s London home. The British chaplain and art-dealer Robert Langton Douglas searched for Italian paintings for Morgan’s Renaissance villa, while Morgan’s trusted Paris dealer Jacques Seligmann offered the banker the finest objects and bronzes in his inventory.

Not everything, however, was as rare and expensive as it might seem. The dealer Stefano Bardini had fragments of an earlier wood ceiling, but the one you see in the room was largely executed by craftsmen in 1905 based on the historic model. The contemporary artist James Wall Finn gave the ceiling a coat of paint, which was artificially aged to create the appearance of an old ceiling. Likewise, the great fireplace mantel contains a small lintel that was sold as a fifteenth-century object by Bardini but was likely a modern creation. It is embedded in a stone and concrete surround created in 1905. Ultimately, Morgan was practical in his expenditures and creating this Italianate interior was the work of decorators as much as the great collector.