Friday, October 18, 2013
Henry McIlhenny and Glenveagh Castle
I think that it's fair to say that twenty-seven years after his death, Henry McIlhenny is still considered to be one of America's great aesthetes. McIlhenny was a bon vivant, an inveterate host, a connoisseur, and the former chairman and decorative arts curator of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Andy Warhol once stated that McIlhenny was "the only person in Philadelphia with glamour." (I find this hard to believe as my Philadelphia acquaintances are very chic.) And, as the January 1975 issue of House Beautiful proclaimed, McIlhenny was "an 18th-century gentleman transposed to the 20th century." Obviously, McIlhenny was quite a man.
One of McIlhenny's two domiciles that is still gushed over today was Glenveagh Castle in County Donegal, Ireland. (His other residence was at Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia.) Built in the 1870s for an American couple, Glenveagh Castle was purchaseed by McIlhenny in the late 1930s. At that time, he was the castle's third owner. Through the years, McIlhenny amassed a great deal of land surrounding the castle, and he eventually left the land and the castle to the Republic of Ireland.
As you can see, the interiors of Glenveagh Castle were brimming with antiques and elegant furnishings. I have read that Denning & Fourcade assisted McIlhenny with the decorating of his Philadelphia home, so I wonder if the design duo were responsible for any of the decor seen here. I guess that I'll just have to leave that research for another day.
Image at top: McIlhenny seated in Glenveagh Castle's Gothic-style orangerie, which was designed by Philippe Jullian. You can see the full structure below.
The castle's entrance hall, seen right, was decorated in coquillage, with its walls covered in mussel shells.
The Salon, above, was made lively by a French toile that covered Irish/English Chippendale chairs and sofas. The painting over the fireplace was by George Stubbs.
The Dining Room curtains were made of Donegal tweed. The furniture was mostly English Regency.
McIlhenny's red studio was filled with books and personal mementos.
English cretonne fabric was used for the sofa and chairs, while the Greek needlepoint rug offered up another note of pattern. Part of McIlhenny's collection of Imari porcelain can be seen here.
The main staircase was striking with its large-scale wallpaper by Coles.
The music room had curving falls that were covered in tartan plaid.
All photos from House Beautiful, January 1975, Feliciano photographer.