A Beaux Arts Palace
Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt
Richard Morris Hunt
Brick faced with marble
The term “Beaux Arts style” refers to an eclectic style of architecture inspired by historic models and promoted by American graduates of the École des Beaux Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris. The style was very popular in the late 19th century among America’s wealthy industrialists who desired to express their taste and values by building monumental houses.
Marble House (1888-1892) was built for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt. Architect Richard Morris Hunt was the first American educated at the École des Beaux-Arts; He employed the classical precepts of his studies abroad to the design of Marble House, which Mrs. Vanderbilt referred to as her “temple to the arts.” In his design for Marble House, Hunt drew upon two famous historic buildings dedicated to women: the Parthenon (5th century B.C.E., Athens, Greece), temple to Athena the goddess of wisdom and war, and the Petit Trianon (1760-1764, Versailles, France) built by Louis XV for his mistress Madame de Pompadour, a powerful figure in shaping 18th century European art and culture.
Marble House’s monumental portico with Corinthian-style columns was inspired by the east façade of the Louvre, one of the great monuments of French classical architecture. Corinthian columns were the most ornate of the three Greek orders, or styles of architecture. They are characterized by their slender fluted shafts and elaborate capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and scrolls.
Corinthian columns adorned with spiral scrolls, called volutes, along with rows of acanthus leaves, and topped with an ornate cornice.
Flat columns, called pilasters, define the walls of the façade. A “stringcourse,” a band of raised stone, shows the division between first and second floors on the exterior.
Classical masks serve as waterspouts for the fountain at the base of the curved
front entrance ramp.
Classical arches accent the windows on the