Mount Vernon

Wendell Garrett, Editor, Robert C. Lautman, Photographer, Edward Owen, Photographer Monacelli Press $65 (272p) ISBN 978-1-58093-010-9
Marking the bicentenary of George Washington's death, an exhibition of artifacts from his Virginia estate will travel later this year to museums from coast to coast. Tourists, historians and home stylists with a fondness for Washingtonia won't want to miss what must be one of the first coffee-table books to be published on our first president's home. The essays and photographs (mostly taken by Robert Lautman and Edward Owen) document Washington's manse from all angles in all seasons, showcasing its classical 18th-century architecture and landscape, its furnishings and art works, and its significance as a reflection of Washington, and as a typical upper-class Chesapeake Bay plantation of the period. Because Mount Vernon housed and was worked by slaves, one of the book's more compelling features is its depiction of slave quarters and a monument that was erected in the 20th century in memory of Mount Vernon's slave inhabitants, though these images would have benefited from more detailed commentary. It's the photographs, which take the viewer from the home's landscaped gardens into the large dining room, and finally into the kitchen and wash house, that are the book's strongest point and provide a vivid window onto 18th-century America. More than 300 illustrations (200 in color). (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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