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Upgrade: Chester Arthur, Louis Tiffany and the White House

Sunday, March 30
2 p.m.
Museum Members $15; Public $25   Buy tickets

Note: To receive the member discount, members must log in after clicking through to the ticket purchase screen. Please place the tickets you would like to purchase in your cart and the discount will be applied when you check out. For information about Driehaus Museum memberships, please see the Join section on the website or call 312 482 8933, ext. 21.

In 1882 the new president, Chester A. Arthur, brought in the young New York decorator Louis C. Tiffany to upgrade the haut-bourgeois interiors of the White House.  As a New Yorker and a socially connected man, Arthur would have been aware of the ground-breaking artistic interiors that the heir to the Tiffany & Co. fortune had created in the late 1870s. 

As the Gilded Age flourished, Arthur wanted his presidential mansion to reflect the newest taste and the most artistic impulses of the New York metropolis.  Louis Comfort Tiffany gave the White House some of the most dramatic, cutting-edge modern interiors of the day.  The problem with cutting-edge interiors is that they become passé very quickly, and Tiffany’s legacy was all too short-lived. Mr. Dietz will also sign copies of Dream House:  The White House as an American Home after this lecture.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Ulysses Grant Dietz is the Chief Curator, Curator of Decorative Arts at The Newark Museum, where he began his career in 1980. He received his BA from Yale in 1977, and his MA in Early American Culture from the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in 1980. Mr. Dietz restored the centerpiece of the Newark Museum, its 1885 Ballantine House. He has published numerous articles on decorative arts and books on the Newark Museum’s Studio Pottery, Art Pottery and 19th century furniture collections.  Mr. Dietz also presented a 2012 Nickerson Lecture at the Driehaus Museum:  “Beauty, Money and Power:  The Transformation of Taste in America’s Gilded Age.”

Image: Chester A. Arthur, 1885. Creator: Daniel Huntington. Credit: White House Historical Association (White House Collection).

Image: White House Interior, 1882. Creator: Frances Benjamin Johnston. Credit: Francis Benjamin Johnston Collection, Library of Congress .

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