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THE KEY ROOM CEILING:
The Heart of Anderson House

Nearly one hundred years after H. Siddons Mowbray painted murals on the ceiling of the Anderson House Key Room, they received conservation treatment to address damage caused by an old water leak and gradual deterioration. This work was the first phase of a larger project that will also conserve the Key Room wall murals in the near future. Olin Conservation, Inc., of Great Falls, Virginia, undertook the work, which consumed three months in early 2007. This conservation effort brought the ceiling murals back to their original brilliance and preserved for future generations the stories of patriotism, military service, and family history that Mowbray's allegories celebrate.

The Key Room murals were heralded as one of the best examples of mural painting in the United States in the April 1911 issue of Harper's Monthly Magazine: "Seldom has one small room had compressed into it so fine and complete a presentation of History by Art." These brilliant works of art, completed in December 1909, chronicle iconic events in American history on the four walls and honor the citizen-soldiers who helped win American independence on the gilded ceiling. The room they adorn, named the Key Room for the repeating Greek key pattern in the marble floor, served as a second-floor reception room where Larz and Isabel Anderson formally greeted their guests while surrounded by images of their patriotic heritage.

Artist and Patron

Henry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928), an Egyptian-born painter raised in Massachusetts, was one of the most popular artists of the Gilded Age. After eight years of studying painting in Europe, Mowbray settled in New York in 1886 and received his first mural commission several years later. His creativity, allegorical themes, luscious colors, and collaboration with architects forged a style of architectural decorative painting that was sought after by many of America's most prominent and wealthy individuals. Mowbray's mural work is concentrated in New York City and Connecticut, but also includes commissions in St. Louis, Missouri, and Cleveland, Ohio. Murals decorating the Morgan Library, Appellate Court House, and University Club in New York City, and the Hyde Park, New York, home of Frederick W. Vanderbilt are prominent among Mowbray's accomplishments. Read More<

From the

Anderson House Collection

From the Museum Collections

Ambassador Larz Anderson
(1866-1937)

This portrait of Larz Anderson, on display in the original Library of Anderson House, features the ambassador's diplomatic uniform and medals.
By DeWitt M. Lockman, 1914

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