This intimate, shadowy sitting room to the right of the center hall seats four. Large, comfortable upholstered chairs draped with antimacassars take up most of the small space. Yet the display of ceramics, the modest collection of Piranesi and Edward Lear prints, and several whimsically overgrown plants remind one of other places and other times, perhaps a romantic stop in Italy one evening during a European grand tour some time long ago.
John Ashbery’s collection of four Piranesi-like etchings of ruins, include two images by Piranesi (1720-1778), one by Luigi Rossini (1790-1857) and one by Cristoforo Dall’Acqua (1734-1887). He began the collection in 1950 and first referenced Piranesi a year later in “A Long Novel” (Some Trees, 1956).
This built-in bookcase includes full sets of John Ruskin’s Stones of Venice and Plutarch’s Lives, works that, as Ashbery imagines, might be part of every late nineteenth-century gentlman’s library. On lower shelves and less visible are volumes of Locus Solus, the journal founded by Ashbery and Harry Mathews in 1960 and other, more personal and contemporary books and manuscripts.
This Roseville pottery checkered mug is one of about a dozen pieces of Roseville pottery Ashbery collected for his American art pottery collection between 1979 and 2000.
John Ashbery liked the shape of late-nineteenth century armchairs and recovered several armchairs that the original owners left in the house, including this one pictured.
Part of John Ashbery’s American art pottery collection, this piece was made by Fulper Pottery, a Flemington, New Jersey firm.
John Ashbery purchased this etching by British painter J. Alphege Brewer in the early 1980s.
David Kermani unearthed this beautiful example of Grueby art pottery in 1979; it had been abandoned by the former owner in the basement and was lying on the floor caked with dirt. With a private nod to this piece, which became the centerpiece of his own art pottery collection, Ashbery titled his review of Cooper-Hewitt’s ceramics exhibit, “Feelin’ Grueby,” in New York (June 17, 1980).
John Ashbery purchased this Edward Lear (1812-88) lithograph of the “Pincian Gate” in Rome’s Borghese gardens at an antique store in Argyle, New York in the early 1980s.
A centerpiece of John Ashbery’s American Art Pottery Collection, this brown mug with holes purposefully punched in it by George Ohr (1857-1918) is a fine example of Ohr’s innovative techniques. It is the type of work for which Ohr became famous and which provoked the nickname “the mad potter of Biloxi.”
This potpourri urn, a gift from Mrs. Margaret Wells–the family friend who arranged for John Ashbery to attend Deerfield Academy in 1943–to Helen Ashbery, was inherited by John Ashbery after his mother’s death in 1987.
In the 1980s John Ashbery found this miniature version of a statue he had grown up seeing in the Rochester skyline and placed it on a pedestal at the door of the library.
John Ashbery purchased this “reproduction of a paper in the Barton House in Lubbock Texas,” at Scalamandre in New York City.
John Ashbery purchased this Dedham pottery plate on a stand, with the company’s famous rabbit motif around the edges, at an antique store in Massachusetts in the very early 1980s.
Despite the small size of the room, there are three distinct side tables with accompanying lamps.