|photo by Alice Lum|
Blair and his wife, Florence, lived with their four daughters in a mansion at 5th Avenue and 70th Street – also designed by Carerre & Hastings. But for their new carriage house, Blair turned to the architectural firm of Trowbridge & Livingston who, while they would go on to design important buildings like the marble B. Altman and Company store and the St. Regis Hotel, were still establishing themselves.
Blair gave the architects an unusual task. Not only was the building needed to house the Blair carriages; it would double as the studio of muralist and society portrait artist John White Alexander.
Both Blair and Alexander were directors of the Equitable Life Insurance Company and both were trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additionally, their wives were involved in many of the same charities. No doubt these connections resulted in the symbiotic plans for the carriage house.
As construction got underway in 1900, Alexander returned triumphantly to New York from France on October 8 where he had been awarded a gold medal at the Paris Exposition for portraits; one of which was of Auguste Rodin.
“His studio, which is in process of construction, is at 123 East Sixty-third Street,” The New York Times added as a side note.
The carriage house and studio was completed in 1901 and it was a showstopper. The limestone and brick Beaux Arts structure sat on a rusticated base with a centered carriage door. Above a plain stone cornice, the second and third stories were faced in red brick with limestone quoins along the sides and a central limestone section serving as a base for a robust stone and wrought iron balcony under an ambitious stone hood.
|The deeply-recessed French doors of Alexander's studio led to an ornate wrought iron balcony -- photo by Alice Lum|
The artist used this studio for his portrait work; for his mural painting he had a second studio in Carnegie Hall. During the early days of the 20th Century a full-length portrait was a must for wealthy women and young, newly married socialites rushed to the studios of artists like Alexander, James McNeill Whistler, Thomas Sully and Howard Cushing.
|Mrs. Herman Duryea posed for her portrait in Alexander's studio.|
The lavish French carriage house stands essentially unchanged today. A remarkable example of the extravagant and elegant service buildings of the wealthy at the turn of the century.
I recently discovered your blog and since then, have spent more time than I should reading past posts.ReplyDelete
Blair's stable is wonderful, and reflects elements of Blairsden - one of my favorite houses. What a miracle it still stands.
I haven't had the chance to visit Blairsden yet, although I've seen photos of it. Incredible place. Glad you're enjoying the blog.ReplyDelete
Hi - I am writing a blog post about Blairsden because it's for sale. Do you know if Alexander painted the murals in this home? They are really beautiful. Let me know if you can!! ThanksReplyDelete
Here's a link to the home for sale.
unfortunately, I do not know much about Blairsden. However some of my readers know that estate and hopefully they'll be able to give some input.ReplyDelete
Blairsden is a private home. All non invited guests will be charged with trespassing. MBWReplyDelete
From what I just read, Alexander only painted his portraits here during the 14 yrs. that he used this carriage house/studio.ReplyDelete
Haha. I got that info from the text of this story. His murals were painted at his Carnegie Hall Studios.ReplyDelete
Now the Gurdjieff Foundation..one of the last hopes for the conscious evolution of mankind. No visitors, even those who have worked on themselves for a decade....ReplyDelete