“It would have been pretty darn difficult for actress Dina Merrill to have ever pulled off playing a commoner on stage, film or TV. She just had too much class. The epitome of poise and glamor, the New York-born socialite and celebrity was born in 1925 the daughter of financier E.F. Hutton, the founder of the Wall Street firm, and heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post of the Post cereal fortune”. (from a mini biography of Dina Merrill)

I really enjoyed the glamour surrounding the Hillwood Estate in Washington D.C. I’m not one to fuss much with glamour but I can appreciate it in others. Unlike Dina Merrill I can pull off being a commoner every day.

I’m quite comfortable in blue jeans and a comfy tee-shirt. I like a certain level of glamour once in a while. That glamour still has to have an element of comfort with it.

Dina Merrill whose birth name was Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, was the only child of Merriweather’s union with E.F. Hutton.

Wow! How about these wedding bouquets!?

Marjorie Merriweather Post seemed to have connections with other very glamorous people, too.

I think my most glamorous days have been at weddings. Growing up my mother always made sure my sisters and I had a new home sewn dress for Easter and Christmas. Those were glamorous days, too. How about you? Do you enjoy glamour and what was the most glamorous event you attended or were the star of?

Russian Art in Washington D.C.

Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973), heir to the Post cereal fortune, was the founder of Hillwood Museum and Gardens – her former twenty-five acre estate in Washington, DC. This is one of my favorite works of art that is housed in her former home.


This large painting depicts one of the most important social and political events of old Russia, a wedding uniting two families of the powerful boyar class that dominated Muscovite politics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The artist has singled out that moment during the wedding feast when the guests toast the bridal couple with the traditional chant of “gor’ko, gor’ko,” meaning “bitter, bitter,” a reference to the wine, which has supposedly turned bitter. The newlywed couple must kiss to make the wine sweet again. The toast occurs towards the end of the feast when a roasted swan is brought in, the last dish presented before the couple retires.

For the rest of these photos I zoomed in on the painting above to get more of the detail to share…


The sumptuously attired guests at this lavish wedding feast fete the newlyweds in a candlelit dining hall replete with gleaming silver and gold and richly embroidered linens. Konstantin Makovskii painted this work in 1883, two hundred years after such an event would have occurred. The Russian revival style was quite popular at the time, as Russians were nostalgic for the traditions predating Peter the Great’s efforts to westernize the country.


Mrs. Post acquired the painting in the 1960’s. It was among her final major acquisitions as she and her curator, Marvin Ross, prepared to open her home as a museum.



On her death in 1973, Mrs. Post’s final and most important philanthropic gesture became reality when Hillwood, her last estate in Washington, DC, was bequeathed to the public as a museum. Her magnificent French and Russian collections remain on view at Hillwood Museum and Gardens, where her legacy of opulent beauty and gracious elegance continues to thrive.


I saw this next painting at the National Portrait Gallery. I was drawn to it again because of it’s Russian origin. The Samovar on the table suggests that it was a tea gathering. My parents and relatives were from the Peasant class so they never dressed up like this or had such a luxurious tea…



Many times at our Russian wedding receptions in the States the tradition of tapping our tea glasses with silverware to alert the newly wed couple that our tea was not sweet was performed. This was to inform the newlyweds they needed to stand and kiss each other to sweeten our tea.  The Russian receptions that I attended did not serve alcohol so the “tea not being sweet” replaced the “wine is bitter” Chai nye slotky is one phonetic way to pronounce “the tea is not sweet”…

Despite myself I’ve had a productive week so far. I mowed the lawn, got some laundry done, cooked some new dishes, ran errands, payed bills, picked up books at the library, and did some shopping. I’m getting ready to take a few days off to have some fun with a bloggy friend flying into town. The main event we’ll be enjoying is the Sequim Lavender Festival on Friday. Of course you’ll be seeing what we did and where we went because neither of us will be forgetting our cameras…

Have a great Wednesday! I’ll be watching the U.S. Women play France in a World Cup semi-final.

HT: Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens Tour Guide.

Icons from Russia ~ Hillwood Museum

We are already up to the letter I in Jenny’s Alphabe-Thursday. Thank you Jenny for hosting.

This long post is a series of photos and information about Marjorie Merriweather Post’s amazing collection of Russian treasures including Icons from the Russian Orthodox Church. Mrs. Post’s collection was very interesting to me because of my Russian heritage. Both of my parents were born in Russia. My parents and their families were not Orthodox, although they have many Orthodox friends. I still find these treasures fascinating.


Icon artists are not expected to be original, but instead replicate an “original” image as faithfully as they can. Therefore, it may seem that icons are repetitive. However, each work of art differs subtly from one to the next. Each generation of iconographers contributes to the steady and subtle development of the genre. Each geographical area, each era and each monastery has a distinctive style.


Russians sometimes speak of an icon as having been “written”, because in the Russian language (like Greek, but unlike English) the same word (pisat’, писать in Russian) means both to paint and to write. Icons are considered to be the Gospel in paint, and therefore careful attention is paid to ensure that the Gospel is faithfully and accurately conveyed.


Russian icons are typically paintings on wood, often small, though some in churches and monasteries may be much larger. Some Russian icons were made of copper. Many religious homes in Russia have icons hanging on the wall in the krasny ugol, the “red” or “beautiful” corner.


Mrs. Post has some four hundred objects in her Icon Room including creations by Carl Faberge, the celebrated jeweler to Russia’s imperial rulers. The icons and chalices represent the types of objects Mrs. Post acquired through government-sponsored storeroom sales and commission shops in the Soviet Union. She bought them during a period in the 1930’s, when the Soviet government sought to sell imperial treasures to raise hard currency to finance its industrialization program.



Notable among Mrs. Post’s eighty pieces of Faberge objects are two imperial Easter eggs.


Both eggs were gifts from Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, to his mother, Maria Fedorovna. Nicholas’ father, Alexander III, had begun the Romanov family practice of presenting specially commissioned Easter eggs to loved ones in 1885. The tradition endured for more than thirty years and yielded in excess of fifty eggs.


The stunning, midnight blue Twelve monograms Easter Egg is decorated with the Cyrillic initials AIII, for Alexander III, and MF, for his wife. Maria received this egg in 1895 as the first of many eggs Nicholas would give her following his father’s death.


Nicholas presented his mother with the pink Catherine the Great Easter Egg in 1914. This egg’s pink and white cameo-like medallions bear scenes fo the arts and sciences. Cherubs representing the four seasons adorn the smaller ovals. Between the panels in raised gold are musical instruments. This egg was named for Catherine the Great because of the marvelous “surprise” it once held inside – a miniature figure of the empress. The surprise, revealed by opening the top of the egg, was lost long ago.









Among the ceremonial objects on view are icons created for the veneration of saints, elaborate chalices used for communion, and ornate textiles, including vestments, or priest’ robes, chalice covers, and altar cloths.








I’m really in awe of Mrs. Post’s collections and her foresight in collecting and preserving these amazing treasures.

Remember if you are ever in Washington D.C. put Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens on your list of places to visit.

Photobucket replaced all my photos with blurred out versions and they are holding my photos hostage until I pay them lots of money. I’m slowly going through all my posts and trying to clean them up and replacing some photos. Such a bother.

Hillwood Estate Museum

Here we are at the letter H in Jenny’s Alphabe-Thursday weekly meme and I have so much to share from Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington D.C. that I’m posting early.

Welcome to the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post – the legendary heiress, pioneering businesswoman, diplomat, philanthropist, and distinguished collector.

This is Marjorie and her daughter Dina Merrill. Dina was born to Mrs. Post and her 2nd husband Edward F. Hutton. Dina Merrill became a successful actress.

What drew me most to visit Hillwood was reading about Mrs. Post’s collection of Russian Imperial art which was her lifelong passion. Her third husband was United States Ambassador to Russia, Joseph E. Davies. Marjorie and the Ambassador lived in Russia in 1937 and 1938. She has one of the finest collections in the world. The largest portrait gracing the stairway is of Catherine the Great who reigned from 1762-1796.

Czar Alexander

Czar Nicholas II

A centuries-old Russian custom continues today as hosts welcome their guests with a loaf of bread on a round plate with a cellar of salt placed on top. Platters and cellars that were once used by nobility—some of which are currently on view at Hillwood—were often elaborately made of gilded silver and enamel.

Another symbol of Russia is the double-headed eagle inlaid in the center of this floor. This imperial coat of arms sets the tone for the imperial Russian glass and porcelain that fills the room.

Next time I’ll show the amazing collection of Icons and liturgical pieces from the Russian Orthodox church that Mrs. Post treasured. She also has some beautiful Faberge creations. She acquired these in the 1930’s. I’m so grateful to people like Mrs. Post who had the passion and resources to put such an extensive collection together and than to open up her home and collections to the public.

My post about the Gardens at Hillwood are here.

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Hillwood Gardens


Marjorie Merriweather Post intended visitors to Hillwood to delight in the treasures found inside as well as outside the Mansion.



From 1955 to 1957, during renovations carried out after Mrs. Post purchased the estate, elements of the existing landscape were incorporated into garden “rooms” that featured a variety of historical styles.



The formal garden is designed to transport you to a small formal garden of the eighteenth century. Standing on the terrace you  face the terra-cotta sculpture of Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt.



Fanciful creatures, such as the marble sphinxes, the figures with the head and torso of a woman and the legs of a lion on the balustrade, and the lead cherub riding sea animals in the central pool, lend the garden a sense of whimsy and joy reminiscent of objects in Mrs. Post’s French collection.



The next photo shows the view of the formal garden from Mrs. Post’s bedroom.


As you walk past the statue of Diana you enter the Rose Garden.

In 1956 Mrs. Post hired Perry Wheeler, who had assisted with the design of the White House rose garden, to adapt this garden to her taste. Each bed was planted with a single variety of summer-blooming floribunda rose and the brick paving.


Boxwood was planted to complete the circle started by the pergola.


Mrs. Post chose this site to house her ashes in the base of the pink granite monument crowned with an antique urn of deep purple porphyry.  Mrs. Post died at Hillwood. In her final act of philanthropy, she opened her estate as a museum of her timeless collections. This truly is an amazing gift to the public!




The wood and brick pergola, with its climbing roses and white wisteria that bloom in the spring were part of Willard Gebhart’s original design prior to Perry Wheeler’s additions in 1956.



Four of these statues represent the four seasons. The little guy on the bottom right was on a post on the friendship walk leading to the Four Seasons Overlook.




Looking back towards the rose garden from the putting green.




This is looking down towards the Japanese style garden which I’ll post at a later date.


Past the stone lion is the lunar lawn, named for it’s crescent shape.



There are still many wonderful aspects of Mrs. Post’s outdoor property to show but this post is getting long and I’ll stop here with some lovely Peonies that were growing in the cutting garden.

If you ever visit Washington D.C. I highly recommend a visit to Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens. The history and treasures and beauty are worth the trip.

ht: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens brochure.

Photobucket replaced all my photos with blurred out versions and they are holding my photos hostage until I pay them lots of money. I’m slowly going through all my posts and trying to clean them up and replacing some photos. Such a bother.