Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss were consummate collectors and patrons. After purchasing Dumbarton Oaks in 1920, they significantly redesigned the house and its interiors, built important new structures, added over fifty acres of planned gardens, hosted important musical evenings and intellectual discussions in their Music Room, and acquired a world-class art collection and library.
The illustrated essays in this volume reveal how the Blisses’ wide-ranging interests in art, music, gardens, architecture, and interior design resulted in the creation of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Their collections of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art and rare garden books and drawings are examined by Robert Nelson, Julie Jones, and Therese O’Malley, respectively. James Carder provides the Blisses’ biography and discusses their patronage of various architects, including Philip Johnson, and the interior designer Armand Albert Rateau. The Blisses’ collaboration with Beatrix Farrand on the creation of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens is recounted by Robin Karson, and their commission of Igor Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto and its premiere by Nadia Boulanger is examined by Jeanice Brooks. The volume demonstrates that every aspect of the Blisses’ collecting and patronage had a place in the creation of what they came to call their “home of the humanities.”