Monday, February 11, 2013

Cincinnati Favorites: The Taft Museum

Dear George,
One of our five-star places for weekend outings is the Taft Museum of Art.  We go whenever there’s a new show, sometimes more than once (e.g., for the recent Edward Steichen photography exhibition).  The museum is located downtown at Lytle Park and is the former home of members of Cincinnati's Taft family.  The mansion was built on the city’s edge about 1820 for wealthy businessman and former mayor, Martin Baum.  It then became the residence of Nicholas Longworth, Cincinnati lawyer, banker, and acclaimed winemaker.  David Sinton, who made a fortune selling pig-iron at inflated prices during the Civil War and became one of the wealthiest men in America, then purchased the house in 1871.  Sinton's daughter Anna married Charles Phelps Taft, editor of the Cincinnati Times-Star and half-brother of President William Howard Taft (whose presidential campaign Sinton had financed).   Anna and Charles Phelps Taft lived in the house from 1873 to 1929, and William Howard Taft accepted the presidential nomination there in 1908.  In addition to launching the Taft media empire, Charles Phelps Taft served in Congress and was the owner of the Chicago Cubs for several years.  The Tafts were major art collectors, and they turned their home into a museum in 1927, donating the house, its 690 works of art, and a million dollar endowment to the people of Cincinnati.  The deed for the gift stated, "We desire to devote our collection of pictures, porcelains, and other works of art to the people of Cincinnati in such a manner that they may be readily available for all."  The Taft Museum opened in 1932.  The interior is beautiful, and it houses a marvelous collection of art, including European masterworks (e.g., Rembrandt, Hals, Gainsborough, Ingres, Millet, Goya, Corot, Turner, Van Diest), 19th century American paintings (e.g., Duveneck, Farny, Sargent, Whistler), an extensive collection of porcelains and enamels, antique furniture, and famous entryway murals from the 1840’s by Cincinnati African-American artist Robert Duncanson. The Taft was renovated in 2003-4, and its turn of the century decor gives the guest the feeling of visiting the Taft's home.  On a recent visit during the holidays I took pictures of various rooms housing the permanent collection.   Here's how the Taft is looking these days.

The courtyard

Sources: (“Taft Museum of Art”, “Charles Phelps Taft”, “David Sinton”); (“History”); (“Baum-Taft-House”) 

G-mail Comments
-Gayle C-L (2-11):  This museum is amazing.  So beautiful.  The walls are lucky.. and so are you, you were there!!  Great detail..and a great story..
Thank you for this :)    Love you :)

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