Diplomatic Reception Rooms

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The Entrance HallThe Gallery
The Passageway was inspired by superlative examples of Georgian architecture, and showcases important silver objects and New England paintings.

Architectural Tradition

The Passageway was designed by the architect Edward Vason Jones to lead visitors into the Gallery of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. Its architecture was inspired by Woodford, a fine mid-18th-century mansion in Philadelphia. The home, once a summer residence, is notable for the proportion and balance that are characteristic of the architectural style called Georgian, after the kings of England. In the passageway, the detailed carvings on the ceiling and pilasters recall the classical architecture of Greece and Rome on which the Georgian style was modeled.

Historical Furnishings

The Passageway is lined with paintings that portray historic New England, beginning with the landing of the Pilgrims and including views of Connecticut and Niagara Falls. A tall case clock from Connecticut, made in the year of American independence, 1776, plays six different popular tunes from that time.

Adjacent to the clock is a large library bookcase from Charleston, South Carolina, that displays early silver produced by the silversmiths of Baltimore and Washington. Most notable among them is a small silver box featuring the Great Seal of the United States on its cover. This is a skippet, a box made specially to protect the wax seal on important official documents and international treaties. Also on display is a silver coffee urn that was presented by James Monroe to the sea captain who transported him across the Atlantic to Norfolk, Virginia, in late 1807. Monroe had been serving as U.S. minister in London and was shortly to be named secretary of state. A pitcher in the bookcase is associated with another secretary of state, Daniel Webster, who concluded an important treaty with Great Britain in 1842. Finally, an urn and salver by the well-known silversmith Samuel Kirk & Son showcase a decorative technique called repoussé, in which the silver is hammered on the reverse to create raised designs.

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The Passageway
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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

Objects in This Room

Federal Cherry Musical Tall Case Clock

Federal Cherry Musical Tall Case Clock

Harland, Thomas
1776
wood; cherry; eastern white pine; chestnut
Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls

Holloway, Frederick
ca. 1850
oil on canvas
American Silver Pitcher and Cover

American Silver Pitcher and Cover

Jones, John B.
ca. 1830
metal; silver
James Monroe's Silver Coffee Urn Presented to Captain Edward Howe

James Monroe's Silver Coffee Urn Presented to Captain Edward Howe

Unknown
ca. 1808
metal; silver
The Landing of the Pilgrims

The Landing of the Pilgrims

Cornè, Michele Felice
1803
oil on canvas
American Silver Repousse Water Pitcher

American Silver Repousse Water Pitcher

Samuel Kirk & Son
ca. 1840
metal; silver
American Silver Skippet

American Silver Skippet

Masi, Seraphim
ca. 1840
metal; silver
American Silver Cake Basket

American Silver Cake Basket

Burnett, Charles A.
ca. 1815
metal; silver
Winter Farmstead

Winter Farmstead

Durrie, George Henry
1856
oil on canvas
George III Silver Consular Seal with Ivory Turned Handle

George III Silver Consular Seal with Ivory Turned Handle

Bateman, Peter
1808-1809
metal; silver; ivory handle
Federal Inlaid Mahogany Breakfront Secretary Bookcase

Federal Inlaid Mahogany Breakfront Secretary Bookcase

Unknown
ca. 1795-1800
wood; Honduran mahogany; pine
American Silver Presentation Punch Bowl

American Silver Presentation Punch Bowl

Lewis, Samuel
ca. 1850
metal; silver
American Silver Water Pitcher

American Silver Water Pitcher

Jones, Ball & Co.
1852-1854
metal; silver
American Silver-Plate Standing Cup

American Silver-Plate Standing Cup

Victor Obler Company
ca. 1935
metal; silver plate
American Silver Four-Piece Tea Service

American Silver Four-Piece Tea Service

Burnett, Charles A.
1796-1806
metal; silver