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The collections at NRF’s Rough Point Museum offer an interesting combination of the Gilded Age tastes of Doris Duke’s parents, what she purchased as a complement to the items she inherited, and what she left in her closets and attics when she died in 1993. Our strengths, therefore, are in 18th-century British portraiture, French and continental furniture and other decorative arts also from the 18th-century, 16th-century Flemish tapestries, Chinese ceramics, and mid to later 20th-century couture fashion, but we also have several spectacular outliers. Below are highlights from different areas of the collection.
Portrait bust of Julius Caesar in bronze
Pair of musical automatons by John Henry Cox
Cigar storage case
Nymph Attributed to Clodion
Dutch Rococo marquetry chairs
Portrait of Mountjoy Blount, Earl of Newport and George, Lord Goring by Van Dyck
Molded plaster ceiling with heroes of the ancient world
Pair of wrought iron console tables with gilding
Portrait of Doris Duke at 11 years old
Jeune fille blonde cousant (Young blonde girl sewing)
Series of Scipio tapestries
Portrait of Mrs. Charlotte Denison by Hoppner
Portrait of Lady Fitzroy, nee Mundy by Hoppner
Tapestry with scenes of amorous couples
Tiffany swan centerpiece
Tapestry with proclamation scene
Near Reef of Norman’s Woe by Lane
Silk Velvet Jacket by Balenciaga
Della Robbia fruit baskets
Embroidered panel with the story of Esther
Study for Decorative panel with two hounds by Oudry
Portrait of Charles, Prince of Wales, later Charles II, by Van Dyck
Portrait of the Marchioness of Wellesley by Hoppner
20 panels of hand painted Chinese wallpaper
Famille Rose covered jars with phoenix and cranes among peonies
Wingchairs in the William and Mary style
Portrait of a Young Woman by Bol
Portrait of Nanaline Holt Inman Duke
Portrait of Charles Oldfield Bowles by Hoppner
“Grotto” style piano stool
Portrait of James Buchanan Duke by John Da Costa
Portrait of Raphael Franco by Gainsborough
Pair of Shoes by Jay Thorpe
Portrait of Caroline Spencer, Fourth Duchess of Marlborough by Reynolds
Portrait bust of Augustus in bronze
Louis XVI carved, gilded, and polychromed armchair stamped Falconet
Study for Decorative panel with barbet by Oudry
Covered Jar depicting a celebration of longevity by the Daoist Eight Immortals
The Visit of the Stadtholder Prince Frederik to the Fleet of the States General at Dordrecht, 1646
Large Cizhou baluster jar
Portrait of Thomas Freeman, Jr., Esq. by Hoare
Wicker Hat by Christian Dior
Pantsuit by Emilio Pucci
Carved and Gilded Rococo Double Doors
Pantsuit by André Courrèges
Desk and bookcase
12 armchairs and a settee with tapestry seats featuring Fables of La Fontaine
Infant Christ Asleep by Duquesnoy
Beauvais tapestry with the arms of France and Navarre
Pair of cloisonné candlesticks
The bust and the pedestal were purchased separately by Doris Duke in 1962 from the sale of the contents of The Elms, the Bellevue Avenue mansion owned by the Berwind family and designed by Horace Trumbauer.
This pair of whimsical mechanical pieces (only one is shown here) were made in England for export to the Far East market. To fit English perceptions of Asian aesthetics, a pagoda shape includes animals exotic to Westerners such as elephants and ostriches. When operating, the devices play one of six tunes, and ships and horseback riders parade through painted backdrops revolving behind glass panels in the base. The automatons were acquired by Doris Duke in Bangkok, Thailand, in the 1960s.
The Wilke Manufacturing Company also made refrigerators around the turn of the twentieth century that were covered in porcelain tiles, just as on this freestanding cigar case, which was installed in the kitchen by James Buchanan Duke when renovating Rough Point in 1922.
A set of four chairs, each part ornately shaped and decoratively inlaid with foliage, urns, and flowers. Doris Duke bought these chairs in New York at auction in 1972.
This is one of two double portraits painted by Anthony Van Dyck for the two men depicted here, one for each. The other portrait is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. It was purchased by Doris Duke in 1963 and was her first major purchase of Old Master paintings and the perfect complement to her father's collection of 18th-century portraits by British painters.
Within elaborately shaped medallions are portrait busts of Joshua, Hector, and Alexander the Great.
This pair of tables is in the style of later 18th-century French Louis XVI wall consoles, but they were made in the 19th century to match the scale and opulence of Gilded Age mansions. They were originally part of the furnishings of the New York mansion where Doris Duke grew up, but moved to Rough Point’s Solarium at Rough Point in the late 1950s.
Doris Duke sat for this portrait in 1923, the year that Rough Point was being renovated for the Duke Family by Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer. The artist, John Da Costa, had been commissioned around the same time to paint formal portraits of her father, the tobacco and energy tycoon James B. Duke, and grandfather, Washington Duke, after whom Duke University was renamed in the 1920s.
Roman general Scipio Africanus (larger figure in gold armor at the left) was a favorite example of mercy in warfare in Renaissance and Baroque art. During the siege of New Carthage, Scipio returned a beautiful female prisoner (possibly the figure seated at right) to her fiance. For this generous act he received a ransom (the gold vessels and armor shown here at the left), which he returned to the couple as a wedding present. In return, the families of the couple pledged their allegiance to Rome. There are three other tapestries in the Stair Hall from this set, which Doris Duke bought in 1958 for Rough Point.
This full-length portrait was among the original furnishings, paintings, and decorative arts purchased by James B. and Nanaline Duke for their home at 1 East 78th Street in New York City in October 1912.
Doris Duke’s parents purchased this Hoppner painting in 1923 to add to their collection of other Hoppner portraits (two in this room and two on the Main Staircase).
Shown here is one of a set of three tapestries bought by James B. Duke in 1923, shortly after purchasing Rough Point. All three tapestries have scenes that evoke nobility in Renaissance Europe, including couples strolling and riding horses surrounded by musicians, a coronation, and a royal engagement.
Made by Tiffany in 1874 and exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, the silver swan was a latecomer to the collection of Doris Duke. She bought it at auction in 1988, and was so fond of it that she kept it with her on her annual cycle of journeys to homes in Honolulu, Beverly Hills, Newport, New York, and New Jersey.
One of a pair of early sixteenth-century Flemish tapestries purchased for Rough Point in 1923. When Doris Duke closed and emptied the house of its contents in 1954, these tapestries went to Duke University where they were hung for display in the main Library. They were returned to Rough Point in 1957 and since then have hung at either end of the dining table, which Doris Duke positioned to take full advantage of the ocean views from the eastern facing windows.
Central painted dial with Roman numerals within a beaded frame and sunburst surround.
Doris Duke purchased this pair of earthenware fruit baskets, which include lizards, frogs, and insects in their decoration, in 1960, and they have occupied a place of honor in the Dining Room ever since.
Two paintings by French artist Oudry hang on the second floor landing at Rough Point are preparatory sketches for paintings commissioned by Samuel Jacques Bernard, the comte de Coubert (1686-1753), for the dining room of his grand hôtel on the rue du Bac in Paris, built between 1740 and 1742. The full-scale paintings were removed in 1887 when the hôtel was dismantled and its decorations sold. They are now in the Museés des arts décoratifs, Strasbourg.
Portrait of a young Charles, Prince of Wales (1630-1685), in court costume. This is one of two paintings by Van Dyck, the court painter to Charles I that Doris Duke bought for Rough Point in 1963.
This painting from the collection of James B. Duke was purchased in 1923 to hang in his home in New York City. It features Hyacinthe Gabrielle Rolan and her two sons, Richard and Henry. The portrait came to Rough Point some time after January 1958.
Doris Duke bought two lots of Chinese wallpaper at auction in 1958 and 1959 and had them pieced together to create 20 panels that would fit the Music Room walls at Rough Point. This particular panel was put together from three widths of paper that once hung in Clyne Castle, an 18th century Welsh country house near Swansea.
This pair of finely painted covered jars represent just a small portion of the large collection of Chinese Export ceramics that Doris Duke's parents had collected for their New York City residence. From historic photographs we know that from ca. 1912 to 1957 these jars were displayed alongside the 18th-century tapestry upholstered furniture in the Drawing Room of the Dukes' New York City house, just as they are today in the Music Room at Rough Point.
These four wingchairs were recently reupholstered, and when the old fabric was removed, our curator and conservator found a surprise. What were thought to be 19th- or early 20th-century reproductions of a distinct 17th-century style of armchair, turned out to be mid 20th-century copies that are so poorly constructed under the upholstery, they might have been intended as props for the stage or a movie set. Certainly they look great in and are appropriately scaled for the Great Hall at Rough Point, where they add a bit of whimsy and flair. Perhaps that is all that mattered to Doris Duke as well!
Ferdinand Bol studied in Amsterdam with Rembrandt from 1636 to 1641 and later became one of the most successful portraitists in The Netherlands. The sitter of this portrait is unknown. Doris Duke purchased the painting at auction in New York in 1971.
From 1912 to 1957, this grand portrait of Doris Duke's mother, Nanaline Holt Inman Duke (1871-1962), hung in the library of the Duke family's residence in New York City at 1 East 78th Street. It was moved to Newport in the late 1950s when Doris Duke gave the New York house to New York University.
The portrait was made in 1907 around the time that Nanaline, the widow of wealthy Atlanta-based cotton merchant, William Inman, married tobacco and energy tycoon James Buchanan Duke.
Charles Oldfield Bowles (1785-1862) was the son of an amateur painter and musician Oldfield Bowles (1739-1810) of North Aston, Oxfordshire. This was the first of five John Hoppner paintings owned by James B. Duke. He purchased it in 1908 not long after his marriage in 1907 to Nanaline Holt Inman, a widower from Macon, Georgia, who had a son, Walker, of about the same age as the sitter when Hoppner captured his likeness.
Revolving shell form seat on cabriole legs with hairy paw feet, commonly called a grotto stool.
James Buchanan Duke (1856-1925) was the father of Doris Duke and benefactor of Duke University. The Duke fortune came from tobacco and electric power. A similar portrait hangs in the Duke University Library alongside a posthumous portrait of his father, Washington Duke, James B. Duke's father. Both this and the Duke Library portrait were commissioned to commemorate the creation of the Duke Endowment, a $40 million donation made by James B. Duke in 1924. This gift supported several North Carolina colleges, including Trinity College in Durham, which would later be renamed Duke University after Washington Duke.
James B. Duke purchased this portrait of Jewish gem merchant Raphael Franco at auction in London in 1910. From 1912 to 1957, it hung in the library at the Duke house in New York. It hung there even after Doris Duke gifted the house to New York University in 1957, coming to Rough Point some time after 1970.
This intricately decorated chest was originally used to display special personal treasures, such as natural history specimens, gemstones, and small souvenirs from travels. Several years ago, Rough Point curatorial staff were delighted to discover a secret compartment hidden inside, intended for safely storing documents. Doris Duke purchased the chest in Paris in 1965.
Doris Duke purchased this striking portrait of Caroline Spencer at auction in New York in 1970 to hang along the stairs next to full-length portraits purchased by her parents.
This armchair is part of a set of five pieces purchased by Doris Duke in 1960 that, according to the auction catalogue, came from the collection of the Duchesse de Montmorency at the Chateau of Valencay in the Loire Valley. Made at the beginning of the Louis XVI period, this piece displays some Italian characteristics, but is marked with the name of Falconet, a royal cabinetmaker in Paris. The painted and gilded surfaces are original. The embroidered yellow silk upholstery dates to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century and is an amazing survival from this period.
This and a second Oudry work of the same size that also hangs on the second floor landing at Rough Point were recently discovered to be preparatory sketches for paintings commissioned by Samuel Jacques Bernard, the comte de Coubert (1686-1753), for the dining room of his grand hôtel on the rue du Bac in Paris, built between 1740 and 1742. The full-scale paintings were removed in 1887 when the hôtel was dismantled and its decorations sold. They are now in the Museés des arts décoratifs, Strasbourg.
Doris Duke had a great fondness for antique ceramics and even went to the trouble of learning how to properly repair them. This piece probably appealed to her both for its complicated technique, known as fahua -- with an outer layer of turquoise blue openwork over a solid container -- and for its subject matter, the Eight Immortals of Chinese mythology celebrating the birthday of the god of longevity in the immortal land, depicted with pine trees and clouds over waves.
This marine scene from the Golden Age of Dutch painting was among the last works of art that Doris Duke added to the collection at Rough Point. She purchased it at auction in New York in 1985.
When Doris Duke bought this early Chinese jar in 1955, she expressed a shared passion with her parents for Asian ceramics, but at the same time signaled a departure from their narrowly focused interest in later eighteenth-century export ware. As a result, Rough Point is filled with a wonderful range of Chinese pottery from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries.
This portrait was a purchase of Doris Duke's father from the dealer Knoedler & Co. in New York in November 1924.
This pair of double doors (only one set shown here) and another pair just like them originally adorned the Golden Gallery in the Palazzo Carrega-Cataldi, now the Chamber of Commerce in Genoa. They were purchased in Italy and brought to New York by the architect Stanford White in the 1890s. One pair, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Rogers Fund, 1991.307a, b), stayed with White until his death in 1906. The Rough Point pair were destined for the ballroom of the Fifth Avenue mansion of William C. Whitney, which White was renovating at the time. Doris Duke bought the doors at the sale of the contents of another Newport mansion, Bois Dore, in 1977. Just as they were used in the Whitney Mansion, Duke used the doors in Rough Point as freestanding screens. One thing she changed, however, was the orientation of the hinges, leaving one pair of doors (the pair you see here) misaligned.
This suite of Louis XVI tapestry upholstered furniture featured prominently in the Drawing Room of the New York City house of the Duke family at 1 East 78th Street. It was purchased for that house from the renowned Duveen Brothers. On each of the seats and backs is a scene from the Fables collected by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695) in the late 17th century, including the familiar characters of the Fox and the Crane, the Lion and the Mouse, the Hawk and the Nightingale, the Dog and his Shadow, and the Bat, the Bush, and the Duck.
According to the records of the Beauvais manufactory, this tapestry was woven between September 1740 and May 1741. The design is based on a painting by Francois Boucher now in the Palais de Justice in Rouen, France, and it is the only version of the tapestry made from this pattern. Doris Duke bought the tapestry in New York in 1965 from the estate auction of Mrs. Alexander Hamilton Rice, whose Newport residence, Miramar, was just a few houses up Bellevue Avenue from Rough Point.
Given her deep interest in and knowledge of Asian art, Doris Duke bought this pair of candlesticks (only one shown here) at auction in New York in 1975.