Wednesday, January 26, 2011

San Simeon: Doges Suite

If someone were to ask me what my favorite room was at San Simeon, I would have to answer the sitting room in the Doges suite.The suite is so named as the balcony, seen above, is a replica of one at the Doge's palace in Venice - again with that view! Of the many show-stoppers in this room, the most important is the ceiling, 18th century Italian. The ceiling was acquired from the estate sale of architect Stanford White, folllowing his death, where he had had it installed as his townhouse living room ceiling.The image above shows the ceiling in its' entirety. White purchased the ceiling from an Italian Palazzo and had it shipped to one of his many warehouses outside of New York, where his clients would pick and choose bits and pieces from his European travels for installation in their own projects - an early example of an upscale salvage store!This was similar to the approach Hearst took with his building of San Simeon, in fact much of what he purchased was not even used. The above 2 photos are of White's living and dining rooms.I think I prefer this room because it's not a heavy Spanish style but rather more baroque Italian: light, colorful and fun. A close up of the restored Standford White ceiling. Now on with the tour!Every single item in the room is both useful but also strikingly gorgeous, my mantra!Two nearly identical bedrooms with private baths flank the sitting room in enfilade style.The bedroom ceilings are identical but, as we were told, one is an antique and the other is a replica to match. The lamp above on the right above is an antique Venetian gondalier's lantern.I think these rooms are much more pleasant than other guest rooms at the estate due to the vibrant colors and worn wood finishes: a softer feeling.
The lamps throughout are all exquisite: some people have chair fetishes, mine is lamps. These little alabaster lamps were just adorable with the bell shades -also notice the silver sconces.Again the rooms are finished with suitcases and clothing from the 30s, a nice touch. I love the antique vestment above the bed.So tell me, would you prefer the Doge's suite or the tower bedroom?Images of Standford White's townhouse and ceiling image from "Gilded Mansions: Grand architecture & high society" by Wayne Craven.
As with all of my San Simeon posts, written permission was kindly granted to post my interior photos of the estate on this blog only. Please respect that and do not copy. Thanks!


Greet said...

Oh my goodness!! Gorgeous!!
I really enjoy all of your posts!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thank you, Greet! I love yours too; i figured you would love all of these wood ceilings and panelings!

quintessence said...

Tough choice but I think I'm with you in preferring this incredible suite. Oh my - the ceiling and the graceful arched balcony and = well really just about everything! And I too much prefer this style to the heavier style of the tower bedroom (and much of the estate). Did not know about White warehousing - does seem such a contemporary concept. Fabulous inside peek yet again!!

Anonymous said...

The Doges suite for me please!! Love the colours and the sense of fun

Always love your posts,so well documented and educational.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Do I have to choose? I can't have both?

Okay, the Tower suite---by a hair's breadth. Fascinating about the ceiling---

The Devoted Classicist said...

I had not seen the ceiling installed in White's townhouse. Thanks for the reference.

Barbara said...

Do you have details on the drapery/walls in the Doges?
I enjoyed your posts.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I'd go with the Doges Suite, despite the fact that I'd end up with a sore neck from staring at the ceilings for so long. I really appreciate seeing the history from White's to Hearst's rooms.

Do you have a sense that the European artifacts throughout the house were salvage in the true sense of the word, or perhaps a need at the place of origin to raise funds?

home before dark said...

As I have said before, they get this and we get popcorn ceilings? Thanks for this beautiful tour. Now, can you change the weather? You be careful out there!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thanks everyone! I thought this ceiling was the most incredible in the entire house (which is saying a lot!).
Barbara, I'm sorry to say I don't know anything about the draped walls -maybe someone else can help?
Mark- I think in 90% of the case the 'salvage' was people trying to raise funds -definitely. I know the standford white ceiling was bought from the owners of the italian palazzo.

Robert Webber said...

Another great post.
A few things come across to me.
The fabulous amount of atmosphere in the rooms generally throughout San Simeon. I don't feel it is necessarily an easy atmosphere either.
The dressing of the rooms for period-the case open and so on-are touches that need to be done very delicately and have indeed been so.
The ceilings to me as a non architect often seem very heavy for the height of the rooms. They are so spectacular that it almost seems like there should be more space between you and the ceiling. Surely there would have been more in original rooms.
The salvage seems frought with damage. It is easy to say shipped across, but it would be fascinating to know a little more of the processes.
I had heard tell of Hearst having huge stashes of unused stuff, left even after he died and think I may even have seen photos at some point.
Keep hoping that there is lots of your story about SS still to tell.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Robert, I still have 100's of photos to weave together as well as some additional scans and drawings I hope.
I agree with you that architecturally - the ceilings are a bit heavy for the low ceilings. I think thats simply an aspect of them being 'salvage' and sort of 'thrown in'. It definitely creates an affect.
I wonder how much of the 'salvage' was lovingly ripped out of its' home environment and by whom -that could have been the cause of much of the damage (plus the passage of time generally isn't kind to the luckiest of us!).
yes, I was told that there are still warehouses full of item's purchased by Hearst, even after some has been auctioned off and/or donated after his death.

Dovecote Decor said...

If that ceiling could talk... Wasn't Stanford White murdered by a jealous husband?? His baroque tastes, following the adage: "More is More" seems to have translated to other aspects of his life. I have to say, life was good when the $$ was strong. There is so much great stuff in Europe. I did hit a 10 acre salvage yard in FL. last week, and some of those remarkable gates and palatial imports find themselves stacked in those cluttered, lonely spaces. Stanford White's exteriors are preferable to me than his interiors. I'm glad to have found you, your blog is great.

Dovecote Decor said...

One more thing. The fabric walls look Fortuny to me. What else could it be??

jenna marie said...

wow, I am so happy I came across your blog today! If all your posts are like the one today, I am in for a treat! =)


Victoria Kastner is the go to person for any questions about Hearst Castle....She is absolutely the best. Officially the Hearst Castle Historian.
It is a treasure to see and your photos are Divine.

The Swan said...

Yes, Victoria is the official historian for HEARST CASTLE...but I will say that the fabric used in the Doge's Suite is most likely Scalamandre as they were the official weavers for all Historic homes of the period from Vizcaya to Marble House.

The Ceiling for your readers really quite high, for the images posted belie the dimensions...but as you know thru passing those portals, they are HIGH ceiling and that painted panel is perfectly sited by a master architect, Julia Morgan. Nothing is out of scale...even the fact that there is no GRAND STAIRCASE, really is intentional. One of the stairwells contains the elevator which is done in the panels of a confessional that leaves one off at the Gothic Suite where Marion and WR slept in each tower with their sitting room between.

Truly the most Romantic and Beguiling of rooms is the Doges' Sitting Room - on par with Vizcayas' Reception room which also holds Scalamandre Silk upholstered walls.

The Antiques Diva™ said...

It's a Baroque Beauty... How have I not heard of San Simeon before? This is now on my must-see list!

designchic said...

I think I'd choose the suite, but all of these images are spectacular!! Thanks for sharing your fabulous photos ~

Anonymous said...

I'm so upset to hear the ceiling was owned by Stanford White as I'm a huge huge fan and was just in that room admiring the ceiling 3 weeks ago. I wish the tour guild would have mentioned it.