Victoria here.  The Corcoran lions guard the doors of the gallery, in Washington, D. C., behind which are many treasures, including the Salon Doré, or Gilded Room, an excellent example of French 18th century décor.

I visited with author Diane Gaston, a long-time friend and fellow traveler to England and elsewhere in search of Georgian/Regency-era delights.  Diane was as gob-smacked by the beauty of the Salon Doré as I was and we both snapped picture after picture.  She was much faster at blogging about  our visit than I was.  Click here for her post.

Salon Doré at the Corcoran Gallery of Art
This installation is the third for the sumptuous ceilings and paneling.  The room was created in 1770 as a wedding gift to his bride by Pierre Gaspard Marie Grimod d’Orsay (1748-1809). The artist was Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin (1734-1811).  Some early descriptions of the room say it was fashioned for the wedding ceremony itself.
In the early 20th century, D’Orsay’s mansion, the building now known as Hôtel de Clarmont (68 rue de Varenne, Faubourg Saint-Germain, Paris), was stripped of the Chalgrin work and it was acquired by American mining millionaire and industrialist (aka robber baron) and Montana Senator William A. Clark (1839-1925).  Clark installed the room in his Fifth Avenue, NYC, mansion about 1904.  He was a benefactor of the Corcoran in its early years, and the fittings of the Salon Doré  were moved to the gallery in 1926.
Count d’Orsay and his wife, the former Marie-Louise-Albertine-Amélie, Princess de Croÿ-Molenbais, had one son who in turn fathered Alfred Guillaume Gabriel, Count d’Orsay (1801-1852) , a famous dandy who was well known in England in the 19th century, friend of the famous and infamous, such as Lord Byron, Benjamin Disraeli, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Read about the Duke of Welllington and Count Dorsay  here.
Decorative Panels

The Corcoran’s Salon Doré is one of the finest examples of French Rococo style from the reign of Louis Quinze (XV).  Another such gilded salon from Paris can be found in San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum. Read more about it here.

Detail of paneling: Corcoran’s Salon Doré

Gilded corner tables (encoignures) by Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin
(French, 1734-1811)
The four corner tables, along with most of the other furniture from the original room, were confiscated and dispersed during the French Revolution.  Though the other pieces are still lost the Corcoran acquired the four corner tables just a few years ago, in 2008, and placed them in their original positions in the Salon Doré.

Ceiling Details are not the originals but were created for the museum installation

Clock of the Vestals
The Case was made by Pierre-Philippe Thomire (French 1751-1843) bout 1789. The clock was created by Robert Robin, (French 1742-99), signed on the dial Robin/Hger Du Roi (clockmaker to the King).  The media are gilded, patinated, and  painted bronze, Sevrès porcelain, enamel on copper, and marble.        

From the Corcoran’s website: The Clock of the Vestals marked the passing of the hours in Queen Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir, or private sitting room, in the Tuileries Palace in Paris, adjacent to the Palais du Louvre. The  royal family was forced to move there in October 1789 after a mob of Parisians attacked the palace at Versailles, the official residence of the king for over 100 years.  In the Tuileries the  king and queen held court in gilded splendor but were state prisoners nonetheless.   Their last unhappy days together were passed in this palace before they were permanently separated in the mean quarters where they awaited their executions in 1793…The scene on the clock may depict the moment when the vestals, warned of the approach of the Gauls (c. 389), took the sacred fire and vessels from the temple and fled from Rome to Caere, a nearby city…At least sixteen versions of the Clock of the Vestals are known, each having some variation in materials and secondary elements.  The clock in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, dated 1788, is closest in appearance to the Corcoran clock.”

Paneled Doors of the Salon Doré

From the Corcoran Gallery’s website: “The Salon Doré as we know it today is the product of these two great patrons of the arts, the French Count d’Orsay and the Francophile Senator Clark. Even though one was an 18th-century Frenchman born to wealthand privilege and the other was a 19th-century self-made American industrialist, they are linked across the ages as passionate collectors of the antique and the Old World who at the same time used art and architecture to foster their social ambitions.”

The Corcoran’s Staircase

Other Salon Dorés can be found in palaces, mansions, and museums. Another I have enjoyed visiting was recently re-furbished at the Palace of the Legion of Honor, part of San Francisco’s Fine Arts Museums.  Learn about it here.



Salon Doré. from the Hôtel de La Trémoille, Paris
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

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