The Edward J. Berwind’s Artwork Collection at the Metropolitan Museum, NY.

After making a fortune in his family's mining company, the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, Edward Julius Berwind was able to collect many works of art and to indulge in his passion for eighteenth-century French art.

Married to Sarah Vesta Herminie Torrey (1856-1922), Berwind did not have any children and left all of his fortune, estates, and art collections to his sister Julia A. Berwind (1864-1961).

Julia Berwind inherited the New York City estate on Fifth Avenue as well as The Elms in Newport and spent the rest of her life maintaining these mansions.

In 1953, Julia Berwind exhibited her collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, without giving up ownership. At her death in 1961, the collection was donated to the MET, where it has been exhibited to this day.

Among the major artworks of this collection, there are two Fantastic Landscapes by Francesco Guardi. These landscapes of ruins inhabited by fishermen and village people, called “Capriccios”, were most likely painted around 1780 to adorn the walls of the Castello di Collorado in Monte Albano, near Udine, North of Venice. Both of these paintings were exhibited by Edward J. Berwind in the reception hall at The Elms.

Other works by great eighteenth-century French painters include:

- Two pastoral scenes by François Boucher that form a pair, painted in 1768.

- “Les Deux sœurs” (The Two Sisters), oil on canvas by Jean Honoré Fragonard, painted in 1769-1770.

- A self-portrait of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard with two students, Marie Gabrielle Capet and Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond.

- “Madame Philippe Panon Desbassayns de Richemont et son fils Eugène” (Madam Philippe Panon Desbassayns de Richemont and her Son Eugene) by Marie Guillemine Benoist in 1802.

Berwind's taste for art was not limited to paintings, and his collection also includes many tapestries from the Imperial Russian Tapestry Manufactory of Saint Petersburg or the National Gobelins Manufactory of Paris, tapestries based on drawings by Raphael and Giulio Romano.

The collection also includes a significant group of sixteenth-century faience dishes in the style of Bernard Palissy called “Rustiques figulines”.

Finally, there is a Virgin and Child by Joos Van Cleve from 1525, from The Elms.

This exceptional collection, which epitomizes the American Golden Age, was amassed by a connoisseur of refined taste, Edward Julius Berwind. It used to embellish his luxurious mansion and now is kept in on of the world's largest museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Louis Ardisson, sculptor

Louis Ardisson (1848-1930) was a French sculptor during the second half of the nineteenth century. After having received conventional training at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-arts (School of Fine Arts) of Lyon along with painter Alexandre Bonnardel (1867-1942), he specialized in the production of boxwood and marble low-reliefs. He often represented themes from Antiquity and mythology, and his creations were inspired by artists such as François Boucher, Fragonard, or Charles Coypel. He chose to follow in the footsteps of the great masters, and his artwork belonged to the “Great Genre” according to Félibien's (1619-1695) classification.

The sculptor would exhibit many works in the official Salons, and in 1878, he presented Vénus chez Vulcain (Venus and Vulcan) at the World Fair in Paris. This low-relief, inspired by a monumental painting by Boucher, earned Ardisson a bronze medal.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) discovered the sculptor's work, which was soon highly esteemed by famous interior designer Jules Allard. Both Ardisson and Allard had a certain taste for eighteenth-century flamboyant art : their two styles converged. Ardisson participated in many of the decorator's projects, particularly those for the sumptuous mansions built in the United States for the wealthiest families of the time. Together, they created a spectacular fireplace representing Neptune for Edward Julius Berwind's estate on Fifth Avenue, in New York City. They also decorated the luxurious Marble House in Newport for the Vanderbilts.

Jules Allard et Fils

The Maison Allard was founded in 1832 by Célestin Allard. It first specialized in woodwork and upholstery before expanding its activity to interior design, offering complete interior decors to an upper-class clientele. The company participated in the National Exhibitions from 1844 to 1849 and began to be known in other countries when it opened a branch in Brussels.

In 1860, Célestin's son Jules Allard took over the atelier, whose international success continued to grow. In 1875, he partnered with his two sons, and the Maison Allard was renamed “Jules Allard et Fils” (Jules Allard and Sons); this is how the company would come to be known in America.

The company stood out at the great World Fairs, especially in the 1878 Fair in Paris, where Allard won a gold medal and became a knight of the Légion d'Honneur, the highest distinction in France. During this period, Allard met English interior decorator Richard Morris Hunt, which allowed him to work on the mansions of the wealthiest families of the United States. Thanks to these commissions, Jules Allard opened a branch in New York City in 1885; this way, he could create sumptuous decors for the Vanderbilt and Berwind mansions in New York and Newport. One of his major interior designs, which led to the peak of his fame, was that of the Marble House, Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt's Summer “cottage” in Newport.

He also worked for Edward Julius Berwind, managing the interior design for his estate on Fifth Avenue in New York City and designing the monumental fireplace sculpted by Louis Ardisson and presented on our website.

Edward Julius Berwind (1848-1936)

The son of German immigrants, Edward Julius Berwind was born in Philadelphia in 1848. He served in the Navy from 1865 to 1875 before taking over his father's coal mining company with his brother, where he would earn a fortune.

At the turn of the twentieth century, it was one of the largest coal-producing companies in the United States, having created several cities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The company exported coal to South America, the West Indies and Europe. Edward Julius Berwind quickly became a millionaire. In 1876, he moved his offices to New York City and purchased a lot on Fifth Avenue where he built a mansion. This house allowed him to organize magnificent receptions in the second-floor ballroom and also became a treasure trove for the collection of artwork owned by the art connoisseur, which included paintings, tapestries, and glasswork. This vast collection is now kept at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The gorgeous residence, situated at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, or 828 Fifth Avenue, was designed in 1894 by a young architect named Nathan Clark Mellen. The interiors were designed and decorated by the Jules Allard et Fils company, Parisian cabinetmakers and decorators who had opened a branch in New York City in 1885. Architecture historian John Tauranac later described the mansion in the New York Times as "nothing less of a palace [...] unabashedly Louis XV and about as close to Versailles as residential New York has to offer".

The extraordinary fireplace from this mansion presented on our website was created by Jules Allard and features exceptional sculptures by Louis Ardisson.

Jules Allard was also the interior designer for the Berwind family's Summer estate The Elms in Newport Beach in 1901. Modeled on the Château d'Asnières, this mansion contains 48 rooms! In this residence, Edward J. Berwind and his wife Sarah used to receive the most prominent people of their time, such as Theodore Roosevelt and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. In 1901, they had a splendid party in the gigantic ballroom (130 m², or 425.5 Sq. Ft.) for the inauguration of the estate.

Extraordinary marble fireplace from the Edward J. Berwind Estate on Fifth Avenue, New York City, by Jules Allard et Fils and Louis Ardisson

Jules Allard et Fils

Louis Ardisson, sculptor

Monumental fireplace
from the Berwind Estate, 828 Fifth Avenue, New York City.



Dimensions: H. 457 cm (180''); W. 231 cm (91''); D. 61 cm (24'')

Statuary Carrara marble, Violet Breche marble, gilded bronze, bronze with green patina.

Built for the Grand Hall on the second floor of the Berwind estate on Fifth Avenue in New York City, this monumental fireplace features a caryatid and an atlant on either side of the opening on the hearth. They are made out of gilded bronze and bronze with green patina, and the lower part of their body is entrapped in a sheath set on a bronze double lion paw.

A large low-relief made of Statuary Carrara marble and encased by a molded Violet Breche marble frame constitutes the mantel's arched pediment. Sculpted by Louis Ardisson, the low-relief, over 1.80 meters high (5.9 feet), is a representation of the “Triumph of Neptune”.

The substantial low-relief is signed by both Jules Allard et Fils and Louis Ardisson.

The fireplace lintel is adorned with another low-relief by Louis Ardisson, an allegorical representation of Winter.

The mantel is topped off by Edward Julius Berwind's monogram “EJB” inscribed in a cartouche framed with two bronze winged cupids.

Edward Julius Berwind (1848-1936)
and his sumptuous mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City:

An ambitious entrepreneur born in Philadelphia into a family of German descent, Edward Julius Berwind made a fortune by handling the mining company his father had founded in Pennsylvania, the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company. In 1876, having acquired great success, Edward J. Berwind moved to New York City to direct the company's New York offices and purchased a lot at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue. Berwind decided to build an incredible mansion on this lot that would become his personal estate, only a few blocs away from Central Park and many wealthy neighbors such as William K. Vanderbilt, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, and Mrs. William B. Astor. He commissioned a then-rather-unknown architect, Nathan Clark Mellen, to design the estate. He chose the Parisian atelier Jules Allard et Fils for the interior design, the apex of luxury.

Edward J. Berwind saw his mansion as a treasure trove for his extensive collection of artworks, which included paintings, art objects, and tapestries.

Architecture historian John Tauranac later spoke of this estate as “nothing less of a palace […] unabashedly Louis XV and about as close to Versailles as residential New York has to offer” in the New York Times.

The fireplace was situated in the Grand Hall on the second floor, a beautiful Louis XV-style room. This hall led to the marvelous Gold Ballroom which served as a reception hall for up to 80 guests.

The mansion's lavish, luxurious decor epitomizes the American Golden Age, an era laden with architectural and decorative splendor.

An interior design created by Jules Allard, renowned Parisian cabinetmaker and interior decorator:

When he took on his father's Parisian atelier in 1860, Jules Allard was already internationally known thanks to the many World Fairs in which the company had participated.

His international career really took off after the 1878 World's Fair, where Allard won a gold medal and became a knight of the Légion d'Honneur, the highest distinction in France. At the time, the Parisian atelier already had a workforce of 400 and the Maison Allard could provide complete furnishings, woodwork, art sculptures, seats, and decorations. Allard was operating as a true decorator, which must have pleased the public at the World's Fair.
Soon after, Allard began collaborating with famous English decorator Richard Morris Hunt, with whom he executed prestigious commissions for the wealthiest families of the East Coast of the United States, like the Vanderbilts. In 1885, Jules Allard decided to open a branch in New York City. He went on to design the interiors for the “Marble House” in Newport for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt from 1888 to 1892 and “The Breakers”, Cornelius Vanderbilt II's Summer estate in Newport. Trusting Jules Allard's name, Edward J. Berwind commissioned him to decorate his entire mansion on Fifth Avenue at the beginning of the 1890's.

Library, The Breakers, Newport.
Interior design by Jules Allard for Cornelius Vanderbilt II.
The Gold Ballroom of the Marble House,
William Kissam Vanderbilt's estate in Newport decorated by Jules Allard

Jules Allard would also be the interior designer for Edward J. Berwind's sumptuous mansion in Newport, "The Elms", completed in 1901.

The Elms, Dining room. Edward Julius Berwind's estate in Newport, Rhode Island.
Decor by Jules Allard completed en 1901.

“The Triumph of Neptune”,
monumental low-relief by Louis Ardisson made of Statuary marble :

The monumental low-relief entitled “The Triumph of Neptune”, made of Statuary marble, was created by Louis Ardisson, with references to major classical eighteenth-century French artworks, specifically from the Château de Versailles era. Ardisson's iconography of Neptune was inspired by Boullogne the Elder, with Neptune riding a chariot rather than a seashell as he traditionally would have. Louis Ardisson was also inspired by the monumental sculpture of the Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite created for the Neptune Fountain in the Versailles gardens. Louis XV commissioned Lambert Sigisbert Adam (1700-1759) to make the sculpture in 1736.

Boullogne the Elder (1649-1717),
"Neptune bringing Amphitrite
in his marine chariot".
© Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours.
Adam Lambert Sigisbert (1700-1759), Neptune with his trident and Amphitrite receiving the riches of the sea from a naiad on the marine chariot accompanied by Tritons and sea monsters, 1736-1740, monumental lead sculpture, Château de Versailles

Louis Ardisson was the author of several other representations of Neptune, for example the low-relief adorning the Gold Ballroom in Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt's "Marble House" in Newport.

The Gold Ballroom in the Marble House in Newport.
Gilded wood low-relief by Louis Ardisson.

An archetypal work of art from the American Golden Age, a time where the Vanderbilt, Astor, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Rothschild, and Berwind families had sumptuous parties in mansions specifically designed for magnificent receptions, this monumental fireplace is presented by the Galerie Marc Maison today .