Exterior view of Vernon Court; (above) Frontier Trapper by
Wyeth, 1920; (right) interior showing marble staircase.
Cutler C62 hangs up the phone, a bit disappointed, and returns
to his chair in the sconce-lit library, surrounded by N.C. Wyeths
depiction of Daniel Boone, an illustration from Treasure Island
by Norman Price, and several paintings infused with the deep,
dreamlike blue of Maxfield Parrish.
just gotten word that tonights meeting of the Newport, Rhode Island,
zoning board should be an uneventful one. He had expected a fight.
This time, over a property sign.
a year and a half, after all, for the retired architect and his
wife, art collector Judy Goffman Cutler CW63 GEd64, to get permits
to convert Vernon Court, a Gilded Age mansion they bought and restored,
into a museum displaying her immense collection of American imagist
as Laurence explains, the National Museum of American Illustration
(NMAI) had support from most of the community, a handful of neighbors
along Bellevue Avenue hired attorneys to block the project. Then
the couple got under the bark of the local tree committee with their
plans to build a small park on an adjacent loteven though they
promised not to disturb a single twig.
for all the headaches, the opposition produced plenty of ink for
the fledgling museum. The free press has been absolutely terrific
for Vernon Court, Laurence says. Everybody wants to come here.
is also where the Cutlers happen to live: a 52-room house now filled
with works of art created during the golden age of American illustration,
which they define as 1870 to 1965. Vernon Court has been open to
the general public, by reservation only, for guided tours since
last July. This summer, the Cutlers plan to open it on weekends
for self-guided visits. And a grand-opening party will be held in
August or September.
(www.americanillustration.org), which displays in rotation a portion
of Judys 2,000-painting collection at a time, boasts the worlds
largest holdings of works by Maxfield Parrish and J.C. Leyendecker,
and the second largest collection of Norman Rockwells, to name just
a few of the artists represented. More than three decades ago, when
Judy began acquiring the original works that were reproduced for
magazines like Town and Country and Saturday Evening Post,
they were hardly considered art. Today such works are recognized
as valuable markers of this countrys cultural historyand
aesthetically pleasing in their own rightselling for thousands,
and in some cases, millions, of dollars.
overwhelmed at what you have created, both the collection and also
the restoration of Vernon Court, wrote Richard Guy Wilson, host
of A& E Networks Americas Castles, after visiting the
museum. Your collection takes my breath away.