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.