Dumbarton Oaks is a historic estate in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It was the residence and gardens of Robert Woods Bliss (1875–1962) and his wife Mildred Barnes Bliss (1879–1969).
Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss were enthusiastic collectors and judicious patrons of scholarship and the arts. A graduate of Harvard University, Robert Bliss pursued a distinguished career as an officer and diplomat in the Foreign Service. Mildred Bliss inherited a fortune from her family's investment in the patent medicine Fletcher's Castoria. Sharing a taste in the art of little-known or under-appreciated cultures, the Blisses developed unique collections with the help of knowledgeable friends and scholarly advisors. They envisioned Dumbarton Oaks as a home of the Humanities, a place of natural serenity and intellectual adventure.
The Dumbarton Oaks Museum features collections of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art, as well as European artworks and furnishings. Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss initiated these collections in the first half of the twentieth century and provided the vision for future acquisitions even after giving Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University.
The Byzantine Collection spans the imperial, ecclesiastical, and secular realms and comprises more than 1,200 objects from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries. Although the collection emphasizes objects of precious materials, underscoring the conception of Byzantine art as luxury art, the collection also includes large-scale works such as mosaics from Antioch and relief sculpture, as well as more than two hundred textiles and comprehensive holdings of coins and seals. In addition to its Byzantine holdings, the collection includes Greek, Roman, and western medieval artworks and objects from the ancient Near East, pharaonic and Ptolemaic Egypt, and various Islamic cultures.
The Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art comprises objects from the ancient cultures of Mesoamerica, the Intermediate Area, and the Andes. Among its most important holdings are a variety of sculptures in stone, including carvings of Aztec deities and animals and several large relief panels bearing the likenesses of Maya kings. In addition there are sculpted anthropomorphic figurines and polished jade renderings of ritual objects from the Olmec, Veracruz, and Teotihuacan cultures as well as molded and painted ceramics of the Nasca, Moche, and Wari cultures. Gold and silver objects from the Chavín, Lambayeque, Chimú, and Inca cultures offer evidence of the expertise achieved by Andean metalsmiths, and over forty textiles and works in feathers testify to the importance of fiber arts in this region.
The House Collection consists primarily of Dumbarton Oaks' historic buildings and interiors, Asian, European, and American artworks, and interior furnishings. Principal to the collection is the renaissance-style music room. The ceiling and flooring of this room were inspired by examples at the guardroom of the historic Château de Cheverny near Paris and were fabricated by the Parisian designer, Armand Albert Rateau. The music room features displays of tapestries, sculptures, paintings, and furniture dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The Blisses used the music room for hosting musical programs and scholarly lectures, and it continues to serve these purposes.References:
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.