A Jazzy, Jolly Holiday at Hillwood draws inspiration from founder 100 years later

This content is provided by Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.

Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens founder Marjorie Merriweather Post was an iconic tastemaker during the era known as the Roaring Twenties. One hundred years later, Hillwood celebrates Post’s influence on the period—her impeccable attire, impressive art collection and sumptuous design—in the special exhibition Roaring Twenties: The Life and Style of Marjorie Merriweather Post, on view through January 9, 2022.

As a wealthy business and social figure, Post found herself at the center of the Jazz Age splendor, and the progress, prosperity, and liberation that characterized the 1920s had a significant effect on her. It was during this period that she developed into the icon we know her as today—a collector, philanthropist, humanitarian and business executive, determined to do good and use her means to benefit others. Objects from her incredible life, including fashion, jewelry, and design, tell the story of the Roaring Twenties through the lens of one of its most influential women, demonstrating the opulence, excitement, and international nature of this remarkable decade.

Christmas Trees on Display

The glamour of Marjorie Merriweather Post’s life in the 1920s permeates the holiday décor that adorns the entire estate. As the exhibition celebrates Post’s legendary lifestyle and the range of art and style that embodied the essence of the decade, so too do the Christmas trees, each inspired by a particular object on view.

The mansion entry hall dazzles visitors upon entry, with a tree inspired by Post’s iconic “Midnight” gown (acc. no. 48.138.1-5), a heavily sequined dress she wore to the Everglades Ball in Palm Beach, Florida, in 1926. The tree abounds with gold, silver, stars, and diamonds, as seen in the opulent costume. Beaded ornaments, geometric shapes, and black and white baubles bring the celestial garment to life through the tree. Vibrant greens and glittery silver and diamonds brighten the dining room, with a large tree that takes its cue from Post’s emerald brooch by Cartier (acc. no. 17.75). She was a discerning jewelry collector, preferring beautiful pieces that were finely crafted or had historic or royal provenance. Round orbs, geometric green ornaments, and brilliant diamonds reflect the precious carved stones of the brooch, which features a large central gem from the Mughal dynasty. Marjorie Post was a major client of Cartier during this period and opted for exquisite personal accessories in bold, deco designs, such as the compact and lipstick case (acc. no. 11.248) that inspires the tree in the French drawing room. The personal accessory served both practical and decorative purposes, housing a mirror and lipstick while also fitting on the finger like a ring. Gold, blues, and diamonds drawn from the piece complement the room, emulating the colors and over-the-top design. Bright balls and gem-encrusted ornaments throughout the tree espouse the beauty of the object. An elegant tree, inspired by a headpiece (2012.9.49) Post wore for a photo portrait, enhances the pavilion. Gold, silver, and purple, drawn from the piece, complement the room built for after-dinner entertainment. Feathers, pearls, and diamonds add a glamorous and particularly 1920s feel to the tree.

In the visitor center, natural materials greet guests upon arrival and bring the outside in as a bountiful tree takes inspiration from the remarkable special exhibition Kristine Mays: Rich Soil, on view throughout the grounds. From roots to flower, a garden forms throughout the tree, rising just as the ancestors do in Mays’s sculptures.

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