An Artist Visits the White House Past

Paintings by Peter Waddell

Composition in Red and Gold

A Comfortable Room Rendered Richly, 1883

President Chester A. Arthur, from New York City, was the beau ideal of fashion and, on entering the White House, called on his friend the artist Louis Comfort Tiffany to redecorate the Executive Residence. The most dramatic feature of the Red Room was the ceiling, covered in an intricate design of gold and bronze stars. As a widower, Arthur called on his sister Mary Arthur McElroy to fill the role of official hostess. The “willful little dog” named “Tot,” a Scottie, belonged to President Arthur’s 12-year-old daughter Nellie.

Listen:

Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator of American Decorative
Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on Composition in Red and Gold

"An Artist Visits the White House Past" (if no audio, click here)

In Depth

Read William Seale’s catalog essay for Composition in Red and Gold, and discover the historical resources used to create the painting.

All images © the White House Historical Association except where otherwise noted.