Published: April 27, 2004
Named by the public “the richest girl in the world,” the young Doris Duke became a dedicated philanthropist and a knowledgeable, aesthetically sophisticated and passionate collector of art and decorative objects.
She created The Duke Treasure Houses, a series of collections and the theme for a special exhibition at Rough Point in 2004. Visitors to the exhibit will see treasures from the four corners of the world, from students of Rembrandt to a life-sized silver swan.
“Having the luxury of choosing from collections of such diversity has created the opportunity to create an exhibit of special and incredible objects,” said Pieter Roos, the executive director of the Newport Restoration Foundation, which owns and operates Rough Point. Artifacts in the exhibit include Seventeenth Century Dutch artist Ferdinand Bol’s portrait of a “Lady in Pearls,” Persian carpets, Newport furniture and more.
Although her house at Rough Point contains a rich variety of different collections, the exhibit draws from all of her houses: her home in Honolulu, at Duke Farms in New Jersey and Rough Point.
Masterpiece examples of her Newport collections, heirloom pieces and collections of Eastern and Western art will be featured in the exhibition at Rough Point. Three famille verte jars will represent a huge variety of Chinese porcelains. Tiffany & Co created a large silver swan in 1874 that was a centerpiece of its display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 and has now become an icon of the silver that belonged to Doris Duke. One of a pair of ivory and silver tables made in Eighteenth Century Russia is an exotic piece, even in these collections, and probably came from the palace of Catherine the Great. A silver mounted saddle made in California for her second husband is a wonderful example of what were known as parade saddles that were owned by all the Hollywood cowboys.
Doris Duke assembled the largest collection of Newport furniture in Rhode Island and housed it in the Samuel Whitehorne House, a restored Federal-style house in downtown Newport that opened in 1975. In recent years it has become more widely recognized for stellar pieces of furniture, such as the highboy made by Benjamin Baker and side chair by the master John Townsend, all of which will be seen in “The Duke Treasure Houses.”
Visitors to Rough Point will be able to view “The Duke Treasure Houses” as part of the regular house tour. The exhibition will remain in place at Rough Point through November 6. Tour tickets may be ordered online at www.Newportrestoration.org or purchased at The Newport Gateway/Visitors Center, 23 America’s Cup Avenue.
Guided house tours last approximately one hour. Rough Point staff advises visitors to allow a bit more time to view this year’s special exhibit. Tours are leisurely and limited in size for the enjoyment of visitors who are truly guests in the vast spaces of this Gilded Age mansion.
Through May 14 tours will be offered on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A Rough Point courtesy van will depart the Newport Gateway/Visitor’s Center at 23 American’s Cup Avenue at 10 and 11 am, 1 and 2 pm. The courtesy van will take visitors directly to Rough Point and back to the Gateway/Visitor’s Center. Also available are two drive-on tours a day, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which may only be reserved in advance online at www.newportrestoration.org.
From May 15 to November 6 tours will be offered Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the van leaving every 20 minutes from 10 am to 2:40 pm. Please note that there will be no bus leaving at noon or 1 pm. There will be six drive-on tours a day, Tuesday through Saturday that can only be reserved in advance online.
The $25 ticket price includes the house tour as well as the special exhibit. All tickets, except online reservations, are available at the Newport Gateway/Visitor’s Center. For ticket information, call 401-845-9130.
For general information on Rough Point, online sales, group sales or any other of Newport Restoration Foundation properties, call 401-849-7300.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm