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Blue Room Art and Furnishings
Picture of Blue Room The "elliptic salon", with the Yellow Oval Room above and the Diplomatic Reception Room below it, formed the most elegant architectural feature of James Hoban's plans for the White House. The Blue Room has always been used as a reception room except for a brief period during the administration of John Adams when it served as the south entrance hall. During the Madison administration, architect Benjamin Latrobe designed a suite of classical-revival furniture for the room, but only some working drawings remain; the furnishings were destroyed in the fire of 1814.

When President Monroe redecorated the "large oval room" after the fire, he used the French Empire style, which is the present decor. Monroe ordered a suite of French mahogany furniture through the American firm Russell and La Farge, with offices in Le Havre, France. However, the firm shipped gilded furniture instead, asserting that "mahogany is not generally admitted into the furniture of a Salon, even at private gentlemen's houses". Eight pieces of the original suite can be seen, including a bergerè, an armchair with enclosed sides. A gilded bronze clock also remains.

The color blue was introduced during the administration of Martin Van Buren in 1837; he redecorated the oval salon and began the tradition of the "blue room".

The marble-top center table, that has been in the White House since it was purchased by President Monroe in 1817, stands beneath the French chandelier. This early 19th-century chandelier is made of gilded-wood and cut glass, encircled with acanthus leaves. George P. A. Healy's 1859 portrait of John Tyler hangs on the west wall above the Monroe sofa. It is considered to be the finest in the series of Presidential portraits Healy painted for the White House under a commission from Congress.

A renovation and refurbishing of the Blue Room was initiated in the early 1990's by the Committee for The Preservation of the White House and completed in mid-1995. The sapphire blue fabric used for the draperies and furniture covering is similar in color to fabric used in the room in 1800's. The silk upholstery fabric retains the gold eagle medallion on the chair backs which was adapted from the depiction of one of the Monroe-era chairs in a portrait of President James Monroe.

The blue satin draperies were derived from an early 19th century French source. The walls were hung with a light gold paper adapted from an early 19th century American paper with borders adapted from two early 19th century French papers. The upper border is a blue drapery swag; the lower border along the chair rail blue and gold with rosettes. Installation of a new oval carpet, based on early 19th century designs, completed the renovation project. The design was adapted from an original design for a neoclassical English carpet of about 1815, the period of the furnishings acquired by President James Monroe for the Blue Room.

Blue Room | China Room | Entrance and Cross Halls | Diplomatic Reception Room
East Room | Green Room | Library | Map Room | Red Room
State Dining Room | Vermeil Room

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