12 November 2013

An Ideal Man, A House Beautiful

Imagine the ideal man, a Renaissance man.
Imagine reading about that man in his home-as inventor, designer, writer, collector, musician-a man who lived beautifully. Thomas Jefferson grasped the Art of Living~oh yes, he had his flaws-failures even, but no man is perfect.
For me Jefferson comes close.

Rembrandt Peale's 1805 portrait of Thomas Jefferson during his second term as President

I knew when I opened November's House Beautiful-with friend Charlotte Moss as its Guest Editor-there would be something special-something nowhere else to be found. To my pleasure- there are several somethings-but this- THE JEFFERSONIAN IDEAL was beyond. Pairing  Pulitzer-prize winning author of Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power, Jon Meacham, and House Beautiful is a match made in the lofty halls of an ideal place like- well, Jefferson's beloved Monticello-indeed it was-and the result is rare-not to mention grand. 
Leave it to Charlotte Moss to shape the issue into a memorable one to be savored, and saved.

Naturalist & Native, in the Entry of Monticello, Jefferson's Eclecticism On View

Jefferson wrote in 1819,
 " I feel a much greater interest in knowing what has passed two or three thousand years ago, than in what is now passing... 
I read nothing, therefore, but of the heroes of Troy...of Pompey and Caesar, and of Augustus too..."

The photographs of Jonny Valiant accompany Meacham's Jefferson portrait. Not to put too fine a point on it-Meacham's account of Jefferson is poetry-or perhaps more lyrically put-words awaiting the strains of Jefferson's violin.
Too much?
If you think so-You have not read Mr. Meacham on Mr. Jefferson in House Beautiful, and I suggest, for the sake of history-knowledge-and for pure pleasure-You do so.

Monticello-a Reflection of Jefferson
Classic by Nature

Feeding the Soul, and Man, In the Garden and At Table

Charlotte Moss, a trustee of  The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, sets a table worthy of Jefferson in the "greenhouse," a loggia connected to his private rooms at Monticello.  With her eye for what is of the moment and of history, Charlotte uses Elsa Peretti, Tiffany and Co., Padova flatware, with sterling reproduction gold washed Jefferson cups from the Shop at Monticello.

Charlotte sent this collage of photographs from her Jefferson table setting-beautiful in its Classic simplicity.
Vladimir Kanevsky porcelain graces the table's center, set off by a ciel bleu Muriel Grateau tablecloth.

Charlotte writes of Jefferson's style & appetites, "Everything Jefferson did was simple, spare, and elegant. For him, the most important thing was the feeding of family and friends. I'd like to think he would have enjoyed dinner here himself."

I think Jefferson would have enjoyed it all. Today, his beloved Monticello feeds our Soul-and our desire for what is everlasting-and our quest for the Art of Living.

LINKS of Importance:

House Beautiful here
Charlotte Moss here
Jon Meacham here
read more about Muriel Grateau here 


  1. Agree, agree! I am enjoying this edition over and over again. What a beautiful post!

  2. I have a collected books on Monticello for years, and will certainly add this magazine issue to the grouping. It's amazing to know that Monticello was neglected for decades, and that in the 1850s was near ruin.

    1. Mark, so true. I think you will fully appreciate the piece by Meacham, I read his book, as I have most of his on the founding fathers-they are superb. Monticello is a place we should definitely cherish-thanks to this HB article that promise goes on. Do get a copy soon, I know the Dec. issue is soon on newstands. pgt

  3. Love the shots by Valiant featured here...and another must read -Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham. With the addition of Charlotte Moss and her tablescapes this does look like an issue to savor. So often we reach for definitions of what is "timeless" and this would seem to suit. I also applaud HB for doing an issue like this -about something bigger, something from the past, and about a bigger idea. Loved your post.



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