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Feb 28, 2017 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association announces the publication of the Winter 2017 issue of White House History, which marks the 200th anniversary of President James Monroe’s reopening of the White House following the fire of 1814 by exploring the influence of French style on Monroe and ultimately the White House. 

Highlights include: 

  • An article on the four recently discovered paintings of the Folie de la Bouëxière, James Monroe’s Diplomatic Residence in Paris, which were acquired by the White House Historical Association; 
  • Newly commissioned photographs of clothing and jewelry worn by President and Mrs. Monroe to the coronation of Napoleon I; 
  • Collections related to the Monroes at the James Monroe Law Library in Fredericksburg, Virginia; and,  
  • An article by renowned music historian Elise Kirk on a French music book belonging to Dolley Madison. 

This issue reveals for the first time four extraordinary works of art recently acquired by the White House Historical Association. The ink and gouache representations of the Folie de la Bouëxière were discovered for sale at a gallery in Paris during the production of this issue. They are period views of the portico house purchased by Monroe in 1795. It stood in the rue de Clichy near the foot of Montmartre in Paris for some 90 years until its demolition in 1841.  As president, James Monroe would oversee the construction of the White House South Portico, which bears a remarkable resemblance to the portico of the Folie de la Bouëxière.

An article by Scott Harris, Director of the James Monroe Memorial Museum and Library, explores James Monroe's ties to France from his service in the American Revolutionary War through a fifty-year political and diplomatic career that culminated in the presidency. This article features newly commissioned photography of objects in the Monroe Museum acquired by President Monroe in Paris.

Art Historian Ulrich Leben observes that the Monroes were influenced by the style and prestige of French goods, fashion, and design and returned to the U.S. with French furnishings for their homes that were ultimately also used in the White House. Leben discusses the dramatic evolution of style that Monroe would have witnessed first-hand from the Directoire to Napoleon's Empire.

Leslie Jones, Vice President of Museum Affairs at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, tells the story of the famous 53-piece suite of gilded furniture President Monroe purchased to furnish the newly rebuilt Oval Saloon (today's Blue Room) in 1817. She explores how the suite came to be made in the Paris workshop of Pierre-Antoine Bellangé and how First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was instrumental in bringing pieces back into the Blue Room a century after the suite was sold at auction during the James Buchanan administration. 

Costume historian Lynne Bassett presents a selection of wardrobe items worn by James and Elizabeth Monroe to the Coronation of Napoleon I. The velvet dress, court suit with breeches, embroidered waistcoat, goatskin shoes, and jewels remain in the collection of the James Monroe Memorial Museum and Library and represent not only the wealth and national importance that the Monroes had achieved by the early 19th century, but their European experience as well.

Musicologist Elise Kirk explores the inspirational story of Charlotte Le Pelletier, the daughter of a French marquis who survived the terrors of two revolutions before coming to the United States in 1803. Today she is recognized as the first woman in America to compose, arrange, and publish not only her own works but those of others as well. Dolley Madison owned a copy of Le Pelletier's music book and another is preserved in the Library of Congress.

White House History is published four times each year by the White House Historical Association and features articles on White House history, architecture, fine and decorative arts, and gardens, as well as stories about the occupants of the White House and their experience living there.

The current issue of White House History retails for $9.95 and can be purchased online here or in one of our Washington, D.C. store locations.

To order individual issues or an annual subscription to White House History please visit Shop.WhiteHouseHistory.org or call toll-free 1-800-555-2451.

P.D.F. Resources

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About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $45 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission. 

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit WhiteHouseHistory.org

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