This past weekend we were down in Washington D.C. On Saturday we displayed our 1972 DS Pallas Citroën at the Hillwood estate museum and gardens for the French Festival. The festival is presented in partnership with Alliance Francaise de Washington. Held at the mansion of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Our friend Judy who coordinates with the museum and Alliance Francaise a display of Citroën's that are part of the celebration. For 3 years John and I have been asked to display and join in by Judy, this was our first year we were able to attend. On Saturday the temps reached 93 and the humidity seemed to be 1000%! We spent the day with friends and by the time my touring the museum and gardens was completed I discovered appreciation in the grace of aging.
Marjorie Merriweather Post was a leading American socialite and founder of General Foods, Inc.
Heiress to Father C.W. Post and Mother Ella Letina Merriweather she inherited The Postum Cereal company that became General Foods, Inc. Born on March 15th 1887 died on September 12th 1973 in Washington D.C. Living between her dash 1887-1973 Post left a legacy of a dedicated philanthropist and business woman for all. Post's first collecting passion was 18th century French decorative art.
I was intrigued that Post owned a pair of 20 carat diamond earrings which belonged to Marie Antoinette and that she donated millions of dollars to charities. The Kennedy center in D.C. received $100,000.00 from Post. She was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government. Throughout the day on Saturday I learned about this amazing woman full of grace as I leisurely spent the day with friends, exploring in the air conditioned museum and walking the gardens and observing the exhibits.
"And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!"
A painting of Marjorie Merriweather Post in her later years. throughout Hillwood nearly on all surfaces and hanging on walls are photographs, portraits, oil painting of Post. At first glance one might almost think she was narcissistic. But quickly you understand the complexity of this socialite and her sincere gracious lifestyle. A savvy shrewd businesswoman secure in her own skin, comfortable with her maturity, glowing from within.
"The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in the woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows."
~ Audrey Hepburn ~
Post was married 4 times...
Married Edward Bennett Close in 1905 and had two daughters with him. Adelaide and Eleanor
In 1919 they divorced and Post started collecting French decorative arts.
Next married Edward F. Hutton and had their daughter actress Dina Merrill.
The marriage to Hutton ended in 1935
In 1937 - 1938 Post lived in Russia with her third husband United States Ambassador Joseph E. Davies in 1955 that marriage ended and Post purchased Hillwood in Washington D.C.
In 1958 she married Herbert May divorced him 6 years later.
In 1973 as Post's final act of philanthropy she opened her estate as a museum as a gift to the public. Living in her dash Post's profound passion for the arts grew her collections. Displayed in the mansion as when she lived there and touring the museum you are able to view everything up close. Now onto the Citroën's on display outside in the motor court.
This amazing 1950 Traction Avant 11CV Berline Legere belongs to our friend Brad. Brad, his wife and his daughter drove down from PA to display their Traction Avant which means front wheel drive.
Once upon a time this 1981 CX Pallas belonged to Princess Grace. It was in the Prince of Monaco car collection and went up for auction from Prince Rainier's Palace fleet. Our friend Brian from Washington DC owns it, nicknamed "The Princess" Such is a stunning car. Brian and his fiancé Alicia enjoy this rare beauty with history.
See the Principaute de Monaco license plate
Mon amie Judy's adorable Citroën Truckette. It is a derivative of the 2CV. Brought over from France, Judy lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The 1972 DS Pallas belongs to John and I. Driving down from Philadelphia around Baltimore John says to me "Did you just hear a funny noise?" I said no, nothing unusual ... well notice the left front hubcap? That funny noise was our hubcap blowing off!!! Today John located 2 mint condition vintage DS hubcaps, one for replacement, one a spare. C'est la Vie, it's always one thing or another with these vintage French motor babies.
Judy, Alicia and I toured the mansion, but I will concentrate on the private areas of the house.
This is Marjorie Post's bedroom suite. Decorated in French style as the downstairs is. We honestly lingered admiring the richness and sense of her spirit which seems to still be present in Hillwood.
As in the rest of the house exquisite chandelier's have rock crystal drops. Rock crystal is my favorite and these are magnificent. The table case is filled with around 50 items and each is made from Bloodstone, Marjorie Post's March birthstone. Aquamarine is also March's birthstone. Bloodstone is a dark green opaque quartz flecked with red, it symbolizes courage.
Photo of Post's private sitting room. Notice the Black and White framed photo on the right, a picture of JFK and Jackie.
Off the bedroom is a silver and pale blue dressing area. My favorite section of Post's bedroom suite. Marjorie not only dressed here but also had breakfast here and conducted business in here.
This photograph of an amazing sconce is hands down my favorite lighting in the house. There are four identical sconces on the walls, the dressing area is stunning and allowed a greater understanding and appreciation of this confident woman.
Be still my heart... the next photos are displayed behind glass in her dressing area. As though out the buildings I used my iPhone5, no flash, many photos shot behind glass ... I tried my best.
Diamonds and Pearls ... Sigh
Aquamarine - Marjorie's other March birthstone
Marjorie's private bathroom is in her bedroom suite/dressing room area.
Alicia and I commented about how the scent of powder, of talc had permeated the area, still lingering in the air ... Marjorie's essence remains if you still yourself and feel her lingering presence of elegance.
Marjorie's bathroom is small but feminine.
Perhaps it is what I feel and suspect, Marjorie's spirit is still present. I spent time observing her private area, reading encased letters to high society socialites, thank you's, invitations and photos of the events. A brilliant business woman and one of the wealthiest woman in America.
Throughout the mansion there are portraits and photos of her taken throughout her lifetime. Each displaying a woman of grace and beauty one of confidence, one truly comfortable and happy in her own skin. Long before Botox or fillers, just natural beauty and poise.
I photographed so many rooms and French decorative items in the mansion but chose to only concentrate on the personal side of Marjorie. Believe me the Icon Room is filled with cases.
Fabergé eggs, music boxes, Fabergé clocks, all beautiful ... But it was learning about Marjorie which was my reward of the day. I have a different slant now on the aging process and I will embrace the decades of self discovery and the gentle creases of time. Truly I feel ready to embrace, to accept the process of age, oh sure I will continue using my Micro Retin - A 1% but Marjorie imprinted on my soul ... Kid you not.
Shall we look at a few photos I snapped with my phone before I got in trouble with the guard in the Cartier exhibit? Yup, you heard me right an entire exhibit in a building housed on the 25 areas of gardens. Gems and items on loan from the Smithsonian. John and I toured this exhibit arm in arm as I dreamed of wearing such dazzling gems!
Wish the guard hadn't caught me, as I wish I had more snaps to share.
Marjorie's dressing table grooming set. Elegant silver, Art Deco.
Coral bracelet, earrings and ring, OK I agree bad photo!
The painting has the Cartier jewelry Marjorie wore with this black velvet gown.
Emeralds, dazzling ... Sigh
Photo of the cutting garden. Throughout the 25 acres there are amazing vivid flower gardens, a puting green and garden statuary. Before we headed out Judy and I went to Marjorie's Rose garden, breathtaking beauty, lovely fragrance. Judy and I sat and chatted and reflected on the days activities.
There were continual scheduled activities. Dance and flirtation of the fan performances. Baroque Guitar, strolling Mimes, strolling Nobility of French whimsy Madame ToutseSuite and Marquis Aubergine.
But the biggest effect the day had on me was the realization to be more mindful of aging gracefully. I felt the presence and left empowered by the inspiring woman named Marjorie Merriweather Post.
Before I take you to Le Chat Noir, I leave you with my poetry inspired by the day.
Mirror, mirror - oh dear!
It often seems growing old in our culture is considered taboo,
but what is true is that it will certainly happen to me and you.
Slowly and softly as you go through your life year after year,
Creases of time, those tiny little laugh lines start to appear.
So do those crinkles and wrinkles have you buying lotions and potions?
Truth is, the cosmetic industry is playing off our vanity and our emotions.
Consider your face a visual time capsule of learned insight,
Embracing your radiance and wisdom is your intended birthright.
You realize your own unique beauty has always come from within,
where grace and elegance dwell in your heart and has always been.
6 of us ate dinner at Le Chat Noir, Judy, Les, Alicia, Brian, John and I. Le Chat Noir is a French owned restaurant on 4907 Wisconsin Ave.NW. A French neighborhood restaurant & Wine lounge in Friendship Heights.
Menu of Le Chat Noir
inside Le Chat Noir
I was intrigued by these waxed and pressed real leaves spot glued to the wall.
Lower left corner I captured a smidgen of Les.
Another photo of these leaves, you better believe I will be doing this somewhere at sometime in the near future. But with my coloration in our row-home I believe I will wait for the painted leaves of Autum. The silver wavy head belongs to hubby John.
Please join me on July 25th back at our row-home as I post a very special post about memories which will include our vintage camera collection and special tribute of a ballet presentation. I bounced that post feeling inspired to sit down and write this one.
4-7 taken by hubby John
All others by me - Vera