Gallery 752 - Van Rensselaer Hall Albany, New York, 1765–69
Part of The American Wing
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The Virginia and Leonard Marx Gallery
The Anglo-Palladian manor house built over a four-year period by Stephen Van Rensselaer II on the outskirts of Albany after his marriage to Catherine Livingston in 1764 was public confirmation that British culture had finally, a full century after the takeover of New Amsterdam in 1664, supplanted that of the Dutch in the Hudson River valley. Until then, the Van Rensselaers, among the earliest Dutch settlers of New York and long the region's largest landowners, had lived, like their tenants, in traditional Dutch farmhouses (see the New York Dutch Room). The new manor's entrance hall, the grandest and best preserved of all domestic interiors from the New York colony, proudly aped London's version of the French Rococo. The woodwork includes leafy carved panels taken from a just-published carvers' design book. The grisaille wallpaper—the decorative program includes depictions of classical Roman landscapes and the four seasons, all within elaborate frames—was hand painted in London specifically for the room. This was as close as an American colonist could get to collecting and decorating with framed European oil paintings.