Diplomatic Reception Rooms

United States of America flag

Web Property of the U.S. Department of State

The Walter Thurston Gentlemen’s LoungeThe Dolley Madison Powder Room
The Martha Washington Ladies Lounge is a beautiful, comfortable, and intimate setting that evokes hospitality and invites conversation.

A Setting for Diplomacy

The Martha Washington Ladies Lounge has been used by the secretary of state and others, including first ladies, for meetings and small gatherings. The two-room suite, named for the nation’s first First Lady, is designed in the American Queen Anne style, which is known for delicate carvings and curves. Furniture from this era, first popular in the early 18th century, stands on curved legs with padded feet, and in this room the curves are repeated in the low platforms under the windows that look out on the Lincoln Memorial. This architectural woodwork, including the arched doorway supported by Ionic pilasters, is inspired by early 18th-century interior treatments in homes in Newport, Rhode Island.

In a sociable arrangement, as though set for a cordial afternoon visit, an early tea table made in Philadelphia sits before a rare upholstered settee. Above the settee is a pair of gilded wall brackets, also from this period but likely from England, that are carved in the form of Phoenix birds. An 18th-century English brass chandelier provides lighting for the room, and rugs cover the mahogany floors.

Historical Furnishings

Paired artwork hangs on the walls. A portrait of Sarah Franklin Bache, the daughter of Benjamin Franklin, is paired with a portrait of her husband, Richard Bache. The two were painted after the Revolution in London by John Hoppner, and the portraits here are copies by Thomas Sully and John Russell, commissioned by their children and grandchildren. Profile portraits of Hugh Nelson and Eliza Kinloch Nelson by Charles Saint-Mémin are also shown together in this room. Altogether different, and quite astonishing, is a small butterfly painted by Albert Bierstadt using a folded paper technique. Prosper Marilhat’s View of the Potomac is also of interest, picturing the river as the city of Washington was just beginning to be built, from sketches made by the young sons of the French royal family who had escaped from the revolution that had taken the life of their father.

The Potomac River that Martha Washington knew looked like this. She never lived in Washington City, as the White House was still under construction when her husband’s presidency ended. But their home, Mount Vernon, stood just south of the new capital, on the river’s edge. The warm hospitality she practiced there and in the President’s House in Philadelphia is evoked in the room that bears her name.

Virtual Tour

The Martha Washington Ladies Lounge
Tour this Room

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

Martha Washington
This suite honors “Lady Washington,” who approached her duty as our nation’s hostess with both warmth and tact.
Read the Biography
Portrait of Martha Washington
Portrait of Martha Washington
Rembrandt Peale
1804
Oil on Canvas

Objects in This Room

American Silver Teapot

American Silver Teapot

Coburn, John
ca. 1750
metal; silver
George III Copper-Plate Design for a Historical Panel Handkerchief

George III Copper-Plate Design for a Historical Panel Handkerchief

Ellis, B.B.
ca. 1785
paper; engraving
Queen Anne Black Walnut Settee

Queen Anne Black Walnut Settee

Unknown
ca. 1740-1760
wood; black walnut; soft maple; birch; black walnut; cherry
Queen Anne Walnut Block-Front High Chest of Drawers

Queen Anne Walnut Block-Front High Chest of Drawers

Davis, Joseph
ca. 1740-1750
wood; black walnut; eastern white pine; red oak
Portrait of Sarah Franklin Bache

Portrait of Sarah Franklin Bache

Sully, Thomas
03/15/1865-03/22/1865
oil on linen
Portrait of Richard Bache

Portrait of Richard Bache

Russell, John
ca. 1780-1810
oil on linen
Chippendale Black Walnut Side Chair

Chippendale Black Walnut Side Chair

Unknown
ca. 1740-1760
wood; black walnut; eastern white pine; soft maple
The Presidio of San Francisco, New California

The Presidio of San Francisco, New California

Beechey, Captain Richard Brydges
ca. 1885
oil on canvas
Queen Anne Miniature High Chest of Drawers

Queen Anne Miniature High Chest of Drawers

Unknown
ca. 1750-1780
wood; cherry; yellow-poplar; sweetgum; Atlantic white cedar; southern yellow pine
View of the Potomac

View of the Potomac

Marilhat, Prosper
1845
oil on canvas
Chippendale Carved Mahogany Rectangular Tea Table

Chippendale Carved Mahogany Rectangular Tea Table

Harding, Samuel
ca. 1750
wood; mahogany; Atlantic white cedar; yellow pine
Transitional Queen Anne Black Walnut Side Chair

Transitional Queen Anne Black Walnut Side Chair

Unknown
ca. 1750
wood; black walnut; beech (seat frame)
Butterfly

Butterfly

Bierstadt, Albert
04/16/1896
oil and gouache on paper
Chinese Export Swatow Porcelain Blue and White Bowl and Cover Made for the Southeast Asian Market

Chinese Export Swatow Porcelain Blue and White Bowl and Cover Made for the Southeast Asian Market

Unknown
Ming dynasty; ca. 1600
ceramic; porcelain
George II Silver Waiter

George II Silver Waiter

Swift, John
1752
metal; silver
American Silver Porringer

American Silver Porringer

Vernon, Samuel
ca. 1710
metal; silver
Six Hand-Painted Colorless Glass Faceted Drinking Glasses

Six Hand-Painted Colorless Glass Faceted Drinking Glasses

Unknown
18th century
glass; colorless, lead glass
American Silver Brazier

American Silver Brazier

Kneeland, Joseph
ca. 1730
metal; silver