BOOK REVIEW: Marjorie Merriweather Post The Life Behind the Luxury

Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Life Behind the Luxury

Estella M. Chung

UK£24.95 / US$29.95 Hardback
ISBN 978-1-911282-45-7 200
D Giles Limited in association with Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, Washington, DC, 2019



Complementing Chung’s first book Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post this richly illustrated volume takes a wider look at Mrs Post’s life from her birth in 1887 to her death in 1973. Hers was, thanks to her great wealth, a life that attracted press interest in her four marriages, social life, clothes and homes. Her father’s suicide was also another source of interest but her resulting ownership of the Postum Cereal Company was the start of her business interests and she amply proved that she was a capable and knowledgeable business woman. She was deeply philanthropic in both war and peacetime and Estella Cheung reveals this eloquently.

We join Mrs Post aboard her plane and yacht as she travels to either her Adirondack camp or cruises the Mediterranean and elsewhere but what particularly intrigued me was the 1904 journey taken with her father around southern England in a specially hired horse-drawn Stage Coach during which they visited Salisbury a place I know well.

Although she enjoyed a life of luxury and wealth it becomes clear that whatever her financial status Mrs Post would have been successful at anything she turned her hand to. That drive combined with her care and concern for others makes her a remarkable and memorable woman.


BOOK REVIEW: Fabergé Rediscovered

Fabergé Rediscovered

Wilfried Zeisler

ISBN: 978-1-911282-16-7

D Giles Ltd

In association with Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens



Catherine the Great Egg. Firm of Fabergé, 1914. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.81.1-2. © Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens / Photograph by Alex Braun


This new book focuses on the well-known collection of Fabergé at Hillwood and relates how new research and discovery of pieces thought to have been lost impact on items among the ninety or so pieces collected by Mrs Post.

We learn more about Fabergé’s firm in the 19th and early 20th centuries and its place in the world of goldsmithing and jewellery creation at that time.  It is a fascinating and beautifully illustrated study that will appeal to collectors and lovers of social history alike.

fig145_Marjorie-Merriweather-Post-showing-clock-MA jpeg

Fig 143 (page 162) Marjorie Merriweather Post showing her Fabergé table clock to guests at Hillwood, Washington D.C., 1960s © Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens Archives

The chapter on Mrs Post as a collector of Fabergé is revealing and one understands what type of works appealed to her aesthetically and the reasons why some offers were turned down. She certainly had a discerning eye!

BOOK REVIEW: Spectacular Gems and Jewelry from the Merriweather Post Collection

Spectacular Gems and Jewelry from the Merriweather Post Collection

Liana Paredes

Published by GILES in association with Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
PRICE — UK£29.95 / US$39.95
ISBN — 978-1-907804-92-2

Marjorie Merriweather Post is well-known as a collector of Russian and French Decorative Arts but what is less appreciated is the collection of jewellery she amassed over the decades. This ranges from historic pieces such as the diamond earrings believed to have belonged to Marie Antoinette, a diadem and necklace owned by Napoleon’s wife the Empress Marie Louise and an emerald which belonged to the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (a carpet thought to have been owned by him adorns the dining room floor at Hillwood). Alongside such gems add pieces by Cartier – she was their best American customer –, Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb and Fulco di Verdura and you get a marvellous insight to jewellery design and fashion in the first six decades of the 20th century. Flowers, birds, figures, domestic objects all provided inspiration for brooches and bracelets – Mrs Post had a diamond-set brooch in the form of her legendary yacht ‘The Sea Cloud’ and another in the form of her turboprop airplane ‘The Merriweather’.

Turquoise, diamond and platinum necklace by Harry Winston 1961

This is a detailed and highly enjoyable look into this outstanding collection of jewellery and is well-illustrated throughout, including designs and pictures of Mrs Post wearing various pieces. It combines jewellery design and social history in a way that emphasises that Mrs Post’s life was indeed spectacular!

An accompanying exhibition is on at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens until 7th January 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Konstantin Makovsky

Konstantin Makovsky The Tsar’s Painter in America and Paris

Wendy Salmond, Wilfried Zeisler and Russell E. Martin

Published by GILES in association with the Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

PRICE — UK£29.95/US$45.00

ISBN — 978-1-907804-70-0



Konstantin Makovsky (1839-1915) was a Russian artist whose career encompasses late 19th century Imperial Russia, Paris and America.  He is particularly known for three large-scale works which depict the customs of traditional aristocratic Boyar weddings and reflect the interest of the time in the Old Russian Style of pre-Petrine Russia.

Konstantin Makovsky Imperial Dinner Table in the Palace of Facets 1883

Konstantin Makovsky
Imperial Dinner Table in the Palace of Facets

The three paintings that are central to this fascinating book are A Boyar Wedding Feast (1883) which hangs in the Pavilion at Hillwood in Washington DC, Choosing the Bride (1887), and The Russian Bride’s Attire (1889).  The book reveals that as well as pictures such as these Makovsky also painted Orientalist pictures while in Paris.

This is a beautifully illustrated book which deservedly celebrates the colourful world of this talented artist. A visual treat in every way.

Konstantin Makovsky A Boyar Wedding Feast 1883

Konstantin Makovsky
A Boyar Wedding Feast

The exhibition Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter runs at Hillwood Museum 13th February – 12th June 2016

BOOK REVIEW – Ingenue to Icon

Ingenue to Icon70 Years of Fashion from the Collection of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Howard Vincent Kurtz. Edited by Trish Donnally. Introduction by Nancy Rubin Stuart

9781907804403 Published by GILES in association with Hillwood Museum and Gardens Foundation, Washington, DC

PRICE — UK£29.95/US$45.00

ISBN — 978-1-907804-40-3


This book takes us on a fascinating journey through Mrs Post’s life as a philanthropist, art collector and a director of General Foods.  It is told over a seventy year span by her clothes and accessories, including shoes, fans, handbags and parasols.  Many of her clothes were especially chosen to complement her magnificent collection of jewellery.

Marjorie Merriweather Post Davies in the Russian Room at Tregaron, Washington DC, c1950 Yousuf Karsh

Marjorie Merriweather Post Davies in the Russian Room at Tregaron, Washington DC, c1950
Yousuf Karsh

She had a distinctive style and this was created for her by both American and European designers. The book is lavishly illustrated throughout with not only images of the costumes but also of Mrs Post wearing them.  She is caught either by the camera or on canvas by leading exponents of these disciplines such as Yousuf Karsh and Frank O. Salisbury.  It is a celebration of both personal style and the changing world of fashion and is a must-have volume for those interested in fashion and social history or indeed in Mrs Post herself.

Marjorie Merriweather Post 1905

Marjorie Merriweather Post 1905

This book accompanies the major exhibition Ingenue to Icon: 70 Years of Fashion from the Collection of Marjorie Merriweather Post, Hillwood Museum & Gardens, Washington, DC, until 17th January 2016

Marjorie Merriweather Post at the Saratoga Races, 1930

Marjorie Merriweather Post at the Saratoga Races, 1930

Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1928

Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1928

Portrait of Mrs. Post (Davies), 1952, By Douglas Chandor

Portrait of Mrs. Post (Davies), 1952, By Douglas Chandor


Mrs Post's Closet in her bedroom suite at Hillwood.

Mrs Post’s Closet in her bedroom suite at Hillwood.

Book Review: Russian Decorative Arts

Russian Decorative Arts

Cynthia Coleman Sparke

Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd

ISBN-10: 1851497226
ISBN-13: 978-1851497225


dust jacket artworks_Layout 1

This is a welcome book that looks at Pre-revolutionary Russian decorative arts in some detail and allows us to learn more about Russian woodwork, jewellery and enamel, hardstone, awards and decorations, silver, bone, lacquer, glass, porcelain and, of course, Fabergé. It is a useful, informative, well written tool for both established and novice collectors and I am sure it will encourage the interest of many more in this fascinating area of collecting.

While the cover photograph is appropriately enough of the Yusupov 25th Wedding Anniversary Fabergé music box at Hillwood Museum in Washington where the author worked for a time, most illustrations come from the auctioneers Bonhams.