Leighton Hammond Coleman III

"Les Chasses De Compiegne" by Parisian firm Jacquemart et Bernard

Further Reading: 

  1.      Coleman Family Press Release 1997 & 1999

  2.     “Historic Wallpapers” by Nancy McClelland

  3.     "Homes of Our Ancestors" by R.T.H. Halsey, 1935 Doubleday,

  4.     “Madison County Rediscovered: Selected Historic Architecture”, by Lavina H. Kubiak, 1988, Madison Co. Historical Society

  5.     “Antebellum Architecture Of Kentucky”, By Clay Lancaster 1991 University Press of Kentucky

  6.     The Central Record Nov. 4th 1999

  7.     The Kentuckian, Communities-Section E, August 21st, 2002

  8.     Document Conservation Center, (978-470-1010)

  9.     Discussions with Edward Polk Douglas

  10.     Discussions with Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz, author of “Wallpaper: A History of Style And Trends” Flammarion, Paris, 2009.

  11.     http://www.kentuckygenealogy.org/clay/)

  12.     http://www.historicnewengland.org/wallpaper/catalog/search_details.asp?id=110-3

  13.     http://www.lib.umd.edu/RARE/MarylandCollection/Riversdale/biblios/currentriversdale.html

  14.     http://www.placeography.org/index.php/Woodlawn_/_Colonel_William_Rodes_House%2C_Big_Hill_Avenue%2C_Richmond%2C_Kentucky#Photo_Gallery

Leighton H. Coleman III with Mrs. Pat Ballard June 2005

In 1999, this extremely rare block printed 1818 edition of "Les Chasses De Compiegne" by Parisian firm Jacquemart et Bernard, which features French aristocrats in both hunting pink and blue coats, on a stag hunt, was installed in “Pleasant Retreat” Governor William Owsley House’s Brown-Foreman Conference Room, by historical wallpaper experts, Larry Church & Mark Kunzman of New Albany, Indiana, and Bob Smith, an artist. 


Messers. Church & Kunzman spent three weeks carefully rehanging the priceless paper, which runs 68 feet total and 7 1/2 feet tall, making it one of the most complete sets of "Les Chasses De Compiegne" in the United States.  In addition to the paper, Messers. Church & Kunzman also re-installed parts of the original trompe l’oiel balustrade border called a “Dado” consisting of panels that measure 3, 3/4 by 1, 1/2 ft high, that traditionally run under the paper, from floor to chair rail hight.

"Les Chasses De Compiegne" was originally ordered by General Green Clay as a wedding present for his daughter Pauline Clay and his future son-in-law Col. William Rodes around 1818.   This extremely costly gift was installed in the newly weds’  Federal-Style home, called  "Woodlawn," located out side of Richmond, Kentucky. 


Many surmise the reason for the General’s extravagance was not out of sheer sentimentality but rather as a complement to “Woodlawn” which it self was an exceedingly generous wedding gift to the young couple from from the groom’s parents Judge Robert Rodes and Eliza DeLany Rodes.


The Col. & Mrs. William Rodes’ new home “Woodlawn”
was already noted for its fine hand carved wood work by Matthew P. Lowery, Doric Columns,  marble mantles and, Palladian windows, prior to the installation of French Scenic wall paper. The house and its decorative contents became an important example of Kentucky’s distinctive and influential perspective on Greek Revival-Federal Architecture & design. 


“Woodlawn” is considered by architectural historians to be one of the first “Federal Style” homes that mark the turning point when the inhabitants of this new State (1792) no longer considered them selves residents of a back woods territory but rather cultured citizens of a new and progressive republic.  This notable mansion figured prominently in John Fox Jr’s. novel “The Kentuckians.”  To day, “Woodlawn” has been carefully disassembled and rebuilt, away from the encroaching State highway, by a member of the Owsley Brown family.

 

The Coleman Family archives, contain documents that indicate that the Rodes copy of  "Les Chasses De Compiegne" most likely was ordered through Downing & Grant, importers of fine French Wall paper on Short Street, Frankfort(?) Ky. circa 1816-1822. Pls. refer to p110-111 of "Antebellum Architecture of Kentucky" by Clay Lancaster, Published by The University Press of Kentucky 1991.


The book on the 1930's Metropolitan Museum's American Wing, called "Homes of Our Ancestors" by R.T.H. Halsey,  1935 Doubleday, page 211, relates how Rodes family's copy of the wallpaper was delivered by boat and wagon to K.Y. and accompanied all the way from France, by French employees of Jacquemart & Benard to professionally hang the 20” by 24” blocks of paper. 


The text tells of an interesting anecdote, which a tests to the dedication of the French installers. Upon realizing the room was taller than measured, they sent away for for more clouds, which took more than a year to arrive. Proving not only just the dedication of French decorative arts companies in seeing that their beautiful products were correctly installed, but just how sophisticated Kentucky interiors have become.

 

Rodes family lore say that the wallpaper was installed 1822, just in time for the Clay & Rodes family to entertain the Marquis De Lafayette, in 1824, on a respite from his famously documented farewell tour of the United States.  Incidentally, the Rodes also hired Jewett to paint Lafayette's portrait. See photos.


 In 1929 the wall paper was taken down from “Woodlawn” then home to Colonel Caperton, a Rodes descendant.  In 1936, part of it was installed in “Lovat,” the residence of Mrs. Leighton H. Coleman’s parents, Jane Gardner Tutt  and George Corning Fraser,  in Hastings on The Hudson, N.Y.  The remainder of the paper was bought by New York City’s The Metropolitan Museum. 


Mrs. Jane Tutt Fraser, who was the daughter of Sally Rodes Tutt and granddaughter of Clifton Rodes, a bother to the aforementioned Col. William Rodes, was unable to purchase the complete set from the J.A. Lloyd Hyde, the antiques broker. How ever, her set become known to the family as The Rodes’ Wallpaer and was often incorrectly referred to as "Chasse a Courre."


According to architectural historian, Ed Polk Douglas, the remaining and smaller part was indeed installed briefly at the American Wing of The Metropolitan Museum, and later installed at Riversdale Mansion Museum, where it hangs today.

 

In 1955, Mrs. Leighton H. Coleman Esq. inherited the wall paper from her mother and installed in the dining room of her home on L.I. called "East Farm".  The Dado while hung at Lovat was never reinstalled in the Coleman residence.  After Mr. Leighton H. Coleman Esq. died, his heirs decided to sell the farm in 1996 and began to find a historic house museum to donate the wall paper to.


Being descendants of Governor Owsley’s daughter Amanda and her husband Clifton Rodes, the Colemans  began to search for a house museum in Kentucky with family connections to display this important piece of French scenic wallpaper in its original intended context . Their cousin, Nelson Rodes, had recommended “Pleasant Retreat”  The Governor William Owsley House Museum which met the requirements of proximity to Woodlawn, and connections Rodes and Owsley families, and more importantly it had the necessary space to exhibit the wall paper.


The Coleman Family were easily re-assured they had found the perfect (and hopefully final) home for "Les Chasses De Compiegne." as they began logistic communications with
the indefatigable Mrs. Pat Ballard, the Owsley House savior, acting director, and project coordinator.


In 1998, the "Les Chasses De Compiegne" wall paper, was removed from "East Farm" under the direction of Mary Todd Glaser, a noted wallpaper expert & then Director of Paper Conservation at  the Northeast Document Conservation Center and Walter Newman.  Mary Todd Glaser coincidentally is a descendant of Col. William Rodes' sister, Sarah Harris Rodes who married Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins.  The paper’s removal, conservation-stabilizing and transportation expenses were also borne by the Coleman family.


The entire project which could have been fraught with mixed emotions for the Coleman family turned out to be an unexpected joyous Rodes/Owsley reunion, when many hidden & coincidental connections started come to light, thus proving the old adage, when the fates close a door, providence opens a window.


This wall paper is featured in Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz’ highly praised new book, “Wallpaper: A History of Style And Trends” Flammarion, Paris, 2009, ps 142, 146-147.  Ms. Thibaut-Pomerantz is an acclaimed international dealer of antique French wallpaper and recently sold a panel of "Les Chasses De Compiegne" from  Zuber wallpaper’s archives.


Today, "Pleasant Retreat" The Governor Owsley House Foundation Inc., welcomes any one with interest in seeing one of the best surviving examples of "Les Chasses De Compiegne" French scenic wallpaper, which is installed in its original intended context of vernacular Kentucky architecture and regional antiques.


Copies of this wallpaper can be found at:

A) "Pleasant Retreat" The Governor Owsley House Foundation Inc.

B) "Riversdale Mansion" Museum, Riverdale Park, Maryland (http://www.pgparks.com/places/eleganthistoric/riversdale_intro.html)

C) "Prestwould Plantation" Museum, Clarksville, Virginia

D)  Around 1911 an example was at  "The Andrew Stafford House" Peabody Museum, Salem Mass.

E)  The Mint Museum, Charlotte NC

 

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Click on above image for more photographs by Bethany Mito