Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio

A recent holiday in New England included tours of historic homes, including Hildene House in Manchester, Vermont, home of Robert Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln. A memorable part of these tours was the opportunity to walk through forested pathways on the house grounds.

Acres of woodland at The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in Lenox,
are carpeted with periwinkle. In the spring,
when it's blooming with blue flowers, it must be a thrilling sight.

This was our experience as we approached the Frelinghuysen Morris house and studio for our guided tour. I have to ask you to imagine the sensation of the crunchy mulch underfoot, the gentle breeze that rustled the leaves, the fragrance of autumnal decay, the dappled sunlight and the hum of the cicadas. The 46-acre estate also includes a formal garden and a small pond.

The studio space was inspired by Fernand Léger's studio
 in France, as designed by Le Corbusier

George L.K. Morris grew up on these grounds in Lenox, Massachusetts. As a young man from a wealthy family, he pursued an interest in art and was hired by MOMA to travel to Europe and buy work for their collection. He was friendly with the French painter Fernand Léger and others. In the early '30s, he had this studio built for himself on the grounds of the family estate. Around this time he married Suzy Frelinghuysen, an accomplished opera singer and visual artist, and together they enjoyed a privileged life, much of it spent in Europe.  Their own art collection included paintings and sculpture by Léger, Picasso, Miro and Gris, among others.

Entrance hall to house, with Morris's fresco

Within a few years a house was added to the studio, designed by the couple and meant to be a part-time residence. Morris himself painted the frescoes.

The living room, with its original furnishings.
The floor has recently been replaced with new leather tiles, as per the original.
Note Morris' fresco on the wall at right.

The light-filled studio

The visit included a one-hour video documentary on the lives of the couple, and a one-hour tour with a very knowledgeable guide. Go to this link for more information about the Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio.

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