Larz and Isabel Anderson assembled an eclectic collection of European and Asian fine and decorative arts and historical American artifacts to furnish their Washington home. These objects now form the core of the museum's Anderson House collection, which also features family artifacts and the historic fabric of the mansion. The Andersons' collection includes objects typically sought after during the Gilded Age like European furniture, tapestries, and paintings, and Asian sculptures, ivories, and lacquer ware. But they also acquired religious artifacts from around the world and relics of American history, which were less commonly collected by their peers. These collections thus reveal the Andersons' interests and passions, from their favorite pastimes to their American patriotism.
Larz Anderson first visited Asia as a new college graduate in the late 1880s. He quickly developed an admiration for Asian culture, history, religion, and art forms, and began acquiring objects from the Far East. Over the rest of his lifetime, Larz Anderson collected sculptures, paintings, metalwork, ivory and stone carvings, screens, lacquer ware, ceramics, and textiles from Japan, China, India, and Nepal—many of which he bought while traveling abroad.
Two sets of Flemish tapestries, the Diana and Arbor series, have adorned the walls of Anderson House since Larz and Isabel Anderson acquired them in the early twentieth century. Woven in Brussels at the turn of the seventeenth century, the silk and wool panels recently received extensive conservation treatment.
Paintings & Murals
The Andersons decorated their Washington home with a variety of paintings, including English portraits, European landscapes, Russian icons, contemporary portraits of the Andersons, and murals depicting scenes from American history and whimsical maps of Washington, D.C. Although acquiring pictures was not as important to the Andersons as to some of their more famous fellow collectors, Larz and Isabel purchased several important works by artists Joshua Reynolds, Peter Lely, Cecilia Beaux, José Villegas, and H. Siddons Mowbray. Mowbray's murals in the Key Room and Winter Garden are highlights of any visit to Anderson House and are his only works in Washington, D.C.