A Collector’s Cabinet
Over 400 glistening chalices, silver-covered icons, and splendid Fabergé objects are perfectly at home in this intimate setting tucked among Hillwood’s stately rooms.
While designing Hillwood with a public audience in mind, Marjorie Merriweather Post found that she needed a space for the small precious objects and the liturgical objects that were not appropriate for displaying in large rooms intended for entertaining. She built this treasury, or collector’s cabinet, and called it the Icon Room.
Post’s collecting tastes are easily recognized in this space she created to display her most intricately made pieces and liturgical items. She favored beautifully crafted objects, preferably with imperial provenance—and the Fabergé clocks, cane handles, picture frames and, of course, imperial Easter eggs in this treasury room embrace her exacting tastes.
After viewing the stunning, midnight blue Twelve Monogram Easter Egg and pink Catherine the Great Easter Egg, both gifts from Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, to his mother, Maria Fedorovna, take a close look at the pale green bowenite clock, which was modeled after an eighteenth-century English clock that belonged to Nicholas II’s mother, Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna. The portraits of her son and daughter-in-law Empress Alexandra appear at the sides.
Linger a while
The icons and chalices in the Icon Room represent the types of objects Post acquired through government sponsored storeroom sales and commission shops in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. These discoveries ignited an interest and passion for her in Russian art and culture, which she maintained for the rest of her life, and most of the most fabulous pieces in Hillwood’s Russian holdings on display in the Icon Room entered the collection long after Marjorie left the Soviet Union. The Icon Room contains such diverse treasures as a Kovsh, or bowl, by Maria Semenova, a pendant watch by Charpentier Oudin, and a Russian neoclassical style military presentation cup.