Accession Number 2000.BH.267 – Frederic’s Original Bonnet House Sketch
Upon joining the Bonnet House family, I have had the pleasure and opportunity to slowly become familiar with the extensive collections both on exhibit and in our storage. There are many items that have been in storage for a good length of time because of many factors such as their preservation and the limited space available in the museum itself. I believe that every part of the collection pertaining to the Bonnet House is significant, and I would love to share with you some items in this new column that may or may not get the chance to see our visitors.
I came across a particularly significant piece of Bonnet House history when preparing our storage for a dehumidifier installation. In an unassuming frame with clear glass on both sides, showcasing the front and back of a piece of paper, was the original sketch Frederic Bartlett drew of his dream of the Bonnet House. The pre-1920 sketch appears to have been done first in pencil and then overlayed with an ink pen. It exhibits Frederic’s fantastic eye for detail, even in a small space such as this! Included in the sketch is a preliminary ground plan of the main house, the iconic cowfish entryway, as well as elements of the gingerbread roof and New Orleans-inspired upstairs ironwork railings. There is also a courtyard view of the studio side of the house and a beautiful rendering of the complete grounds: from the ocean, through the Chickee bridge, to the house itself and the original entryway beyond. Though age has yellowed and damaged the paper, and the ink has faded, it is still absolutely incredible.
This sketch was done on the opposite side of another piece of history – a Cordial Campari print. This black and white advertisement is in a radiating art nouveau style on glossy paper. Cordial Campari is an Italian raspberry liquor that was produced beginning in 1888. Posters such as these were distributed to bars and restaurants in Italy in the early 1900s to promote the brand – so this sketch may have been done while Frederic was in Europe!
I hope you enjoyed this peek into our stored collections. There is always a possibility that the items I will be writing about will find a place in our exhibits, whether permanently or through rotating displays. Keep in touch through our newsletters and blogs for much more to come.