Diplomatic Reception Rooms

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Of all the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, the Adams Room best represents the nation at its founding, and the generation that made the hope for independence a reality.

A Setting for Diplomacy

The John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room was designed to resemble a Philadelphia drawing room at the time of the Continental Congress, which began meeting in 1774 and two years later would declare independence from Great Britain. Its furnishings are representative of the colonies at that time, showcasing the exceptional decorative arts that would have been familiar to the delegates in their own homes.

Many objects in this room were selected for their associations with the men who served the nation in Congress and abroad during the 1770s and 1780s, as statesmen and as diplomats. This reception room welcomes guests with its colorful elegance, comfortable seating, and spaces for conversation. It is named for John Quincy Adams, minister to four nations in Europe, secretary of state during the administration of James Monroe, and successor to Monroe as the nation’s sixth president.

The John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room as it appeared in 1961, and the room as it appears today.

Architectural Tradition

The room’s hand-carved woodwork, wall paneling, fireplace mantel, and architectural details were designed by Edward Vason Jones. A classical architect, Jones was inspired by two 18th-century Georgian mansions in Philadelphia that members of the Continental Congress might have visited. Mount Pleasant, high above the Schuylkill River, was said by John Adams—the father of John Quincy Adams—to be “the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania.”1Quoted in Mount Pleasant website, parkcharms.com/mount-pleasant/#interior (accessed March 14, 2020). Adams visited in 1775. Cliveden, a stone masonry mansion in Germantown, was at the time a summer retreat for the Chew family.

The east elevation of the John Quincy Adams Room, displaying portraits by Rembrandt Peale and Gilbert Stuart.
The east elevation of the John Quincy Adams Room, displaying portraits by Rembrandt Peale and Gilbert Stuart.

Historical Furnishings

The room holds a great concentration of objects associated with the famous men who shaped the new nation in the revolutionary era. On display are a silver coffeepot made for President John Adams by Paul Revere, George Washington’s Chinese export porcelain, and Thomas Jefferson’s architect’s table. Prominently displayed are portraits of John Quincy Adams and his wife, Louisa Catherine Adams, that descended in the Adams family and were gifted to preside over this room in 1975. Other portraits include those of George Washington and Martha Washington, attributed to the Philadelphia artist Rembrandt Peale, and a large portrait by Gilbert Stuart of John Jay, one of the representatives in Paris who negotiated the 1783 treaty that ended the Revolution and secured American independence from Great Britain.

This Treaty of Paris is, in fact, a central theme of the room. The very desk on which it was signed is one of this room’s great treasures. Another is an unfinished painting, after Benjamin West, of the American peace commissioners who negotiated the treaty, including John Jay, John Adams, Henry Laurens, Benjamin Franklin, and his grandson, William Temple Franklin. This painting is centered above the fireplace mantel, amid carvings designed specially to frame it.


The John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room

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The John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room
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The Architect

Edward Vason Jones
Edward Vason Jones mastered the tradition of architectural classicism, and composed the vision to transform the Diplomatic Reception Rooms into extraordinary tableaus that reflect the height of early American fine and decorative arts.
The Work of Edward Vason Jones

Named in Honor of

John Quincy Adams
This room honors its namesake, John Quincy Adams, who served as Secretary of State and later as the sixth President of the United States.
Read the Biography
Portrait of John Quincy Adams
Portrait of John Quincy Adams
Charles Robert Leslie
1816
Oil on canvas

Objects in This Room

Portrait of Martha Washington

Portrait of Martha Washington (after Gilbert Stuart, 1796)

Peale, Rembrandt
1804
oil on canvas
Portrait of George Washington

Portrait of George Washington (after Gilbert Stuart's Athenaeum portrait)

Peale, Rembrandt
1804
oil on canvas
One from a Near Pair of Chippendale Reverse-Serpentine Front Chest of Drawers

One from a Near Pair of Chippendale Reverse-Serpentine Front Chest of Drawers

Chipman, John
ca. 1785-1795
wood; mahogany; eastern white pine
George III Inlaid Mahogany Writing Table from the Signing of the Treaty of Paris [1783]

George III Inlaid Mahogany Writing Table from the Signing of the Treaty of Paris [1783]

Shepherd, Thomas
ca. 1780
wood; mahogany; spruce; white oak
Celestial Globe from a Pair of George III Globes on Carved Mahogany Bases

Celestial Globe from a Pair of George III Globes on Carved Mahogany Bases

Martin, Benjamin
1757-1782
wood; mahogany; paper
Chinese Export Porcelain Hong Punch Bowl

Chinese Export Porcelain Hong Punch Bowl

Unknown
ca. 1780
ceramic; porcelain with overglaze polychrome enamels
The American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Negotiations with Great Britain

The American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Negotiations with Great Britain

American School
After 1820
oil on canvas, in a period frame
Chippendale Carved Mahogany High Chest of Drawers

Chippendale Carved Mahogany High Chest of Drawers

Bernard, Nicholas
Base ca. 1755-1775; upper case 18th century, altered in the 20th century
wood; mahogany; southern yellow pine; Atlantic white cedar; yellow-poplar; eastern white pine; spruce
Chippendale Figured Mahogany Bombe Desk and Bookcase

Chippendale Figured Mahogany Bombe Desk and Bookcase

Unknown
ca. 1770-1785
wood; mahogany; eastern white pine
Portrait Miniature of Martha Jefferson Randolph

Portrait Miniature of Martha Jefferson Randolph

Boze, Joseph
1789
watercolor on ivory
Chippendale Mahogany Silver Table

Chippendale Mahogany Silver Table

Harrold, Robert
ca. 1760-1775
wood; mahogany; sabicu; soft maple; eastern white pine
George III Figured Mahogany Architect's Desk

George III Figured Mahogany Architect's Table

Unknown
ca. 1785
wood; mahogany; white oak; spruce; cherry
Portrait Bust of Joel Barlow

Portrait Bust of Joel Barlow

Peale, Charles Willson
1807
oil on canvas, in the original gilt frame
American Silver Coffeepot

American Silver Coffeepot

Revere, Jr., Paul
ca. 1800
metal; silver
One from a Pair of American Silver Sauceboats

One from a Pair of American Silver Sauceboats

Hurd, Jacob
ca. 1740-1750
metal; silver
Chippendale Carved Mahogany Chair

Chippendale Carved Mahogany Chair

Bernard, Nicholas
ca. 1760-1765
wood; mahogany; yellow-poplar; Atlantic white cedar
American Silver Tankard, The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.

American Silver Tankard

Myers, Myer
ca. 1785
metal; silver
Portrait of John Jay

Portrait of John Jay

Stuart, Gilbert
1783-1794
oil on canvas, in the original gilt frame
Chinese Export Porcelain Plate from George Washington's Society of the Cincinnati Service

Chinese Export Porcelain Plate from George Washington's Society of the Cincinnati Service

Unknown
ca. 1784-1785
ceramic; porcelain with underglaze blue and overglaze enamels
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson

Thornton, Dr. William
ca. 1815-1816
oil on pine panel
Portrait of John Quincy Adams

Portrait of John Quincy Adams

Leslie, Charles Robert
1816
oil on canvas
Portrait of Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams

Portrait of Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams

Leslie, Charles Robert
1816
oil on canvas
Chippendale Mahogany Camel-Back Sofa

Chippendale Mahogany Camel-Back Sofa

Affleck, Thomas
ca. 1780-1790
wood; mahogany; southern yellow pine; yellow-poplar; soft maple; white oak
Chinese Export Porcelain Trembleuse Saucer from Martha Washington's States Service

Chinese Export Porcelain Trembleuse Saucer from Martha Washington's States Service

van Braam Houckgeest, Andreas Everardus
ca. 1795
ceramic; porcelain with polychrome enamels
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson

Sully, Thomas
1821
oil on canvas
American Silver Sugar Tongs

American Silver Sugar Tongs

Dupuy, Jr., Daniel
ca. 1795
metal; silver
English Enamel-on-Copper Patch Box Made for the American Market

English Enamel-on-Copper Patch Box Made for the American Market

Unknown
ca. 1790-1800
metal; enamel on copper
Portrait of Daniel Webster

Portrait of Daniel Webster

Wright, James Henry
19th century
oil on canvas
Timothy Pickering's French Gold and Enamel Society of Cincinnati Badge and Ribbon

Timothy Pickering's French Gold and Enamel Society of Cincinnati Badge and Ribbon

L'Enfant, Pierre Charles
1784
metal; gold with polychrome enamels, silk ribbon (reattached)
Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

Stone, William J.
07/04/1823
paper; copperplate engraving on parchment
Chinese Export Porcelain Charger Made for Eldred Lancelot Lee or his son, Lancelot

Chinese Export Porcelain Charger Made for Eldred Lancelot Lee or his son, Lancelot

Unknown
ca. 1735
ceramic; porcelain with overglaze enamels
Pair of Mahogany French-Upholstered Armchairs Made for Governor John Penn

Pair of Mahogany French-Upholstered Armchairs Made for Governor John Penn

Affleck, Thomas
ca. 1766
wood; mahogany; white oak
The Bloody Massacre

The Bloody Massacre

Revere, Jr., Paul
1770
paper; hand-colored copperplate engraving on paper