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American Presidential China: The Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
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American Presidential China: The Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Susan Gray Detweiler with an introduction by David L. Barquist
Philaldephia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2007
91 pages, 6 b/w + 94 color illus.
9 1/2 x 9 1/2
ISBN: 978-0-87633-192-7

The china used by First Families, both at the White House and in their private homes, reveals a fascinating story of culture and society as they have evolved in the United States since its early days. In this handsome book, which documents over 200 rare items in the remarkably comprehensive Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Collection, a beautiful display of tableware unfolds as readers learn of trends in taste, style, and modes of entertaining, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan.

Among the featured objects are Washington’s white-and-gold Sèvres porcelain that he purchased from a French diplomat recalled at the outbreak of the French Revolution; James Monroe’s gilt-edged French porcelain service, the first state service commissioned by the White House in 1817; and John F. Kennedy’s understated Wedgwood creamware used at his Georgetown home. Collectors and historians will value the information on how the pieces were commissioned, designed, manufactured, and imported, as well as the insights into the ceramics trade and the dining habits among the American elite.

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