A Setting for Diplomacy
The architect Walter M. Macomber designed this gentlemen’s lounge as a quiet, reflective space. The theme of the decorative and fine art in this room is centered on the American West, its role in the nation’s history, and the art and culture of Native Americans. The room is named for Walter Thurston, a U.S. diplomat to nations in Central and South America whose gift made the reconstruction of the room possible.
The paintings in this room continue the Western theme. Barter for a Bride by John Mix Stanley, who traveled throughout the West, portrays a Blackfoot family group in what is believed to be a courtship ritual. Stanley’s painting brings a family connection of its own, as he was the grandfather of Alice Stanley Acheson, wife of Dean Acheson, secretary of state during the administration of Harry S Truman. Cyrus Dalin’s bronze sculpture, Appeal to the Great Spirit, portrays a Native American warrior, his eyes cast to heaven. In Our Elk Outfit at the Ford, Frederic Remington illustrates an episode in Theodore Roosevelt’s account of his life as a rancher and adventurer in Dakota Territory, some 15 years before he became president.
Several objects from Native peoples are on display. An Acoma olla, or pot with a concave base, was used to bear water on the head. It is considered a classic example of Pueblo pottery and fine Acoma work. Its walls were tempered with pot shards from before the decade of the 1880s, a technique that gave the vessel strength. Nearby, from about the same era, is a rare Cheyenne saddlebag decorated with German silver conchos and bells.
On the floor is an 18th-century Persian rug, the most prized historic rug in the collection. The furniture is arranged for easy conversation, with chairs centered around a Chippendale tea table with an inset ceramic tray. A Federal secretary bookcase is interesting because its maker, Andre Joseph Villard, was one of many French artisans who sought refuge from the upheavals of the French Revolution. Immigrating to the United States, Villard introduced the prevailing Louis XVI fashions to his adopted country.