Wethersfield, the estate in Amenia, NY, of the late Chauncey Devereux Stillman(1907-1989), was the setting for a small luncheon on June 22nd celebrating the ceiling frescoes painted there by the celebrated Italian artist Pietro Annigoni (1910-1988). These are the only Annigoni frescoes in the United States. Perhaps best known for his 1955 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, Annigoni traveled from Italy to Wethersfield three different times in the early 1970s, accompanied by apprentices. The frescoes celebrate man in nature, and depict classical and mythological scenes, with many Hudson Valley vignettes.
The luncheon was designed to introduce these frescoes, largely unknown outside of the local community, to representatives of the Italian government. In attendance were: Francesco Genuardi, Consul General of Italy in New York, and Giorgio Van Straten, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York. Both of these diplomats were honored at the luncheon.
Chauncey Stillman, whose grandfather founded what later became Citigroup, was a notable collector, conservationist, and philanthropist. His elegant brick house, built in the late 1930s, was designed by Bancel LaFarge, a Founding Member of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Wethersfield’s extensive gardens, designed by Evelyn Poehler, are in the Italianate tradition.
Annigoni, who painted in the Renaissance tradition, was dismissed by his contemporaries as out of step with modernist trends. The noted art historian Bernard Berenson, however, said that Annigoni was “not only the greatest artist of the century, but also able to compete on the level of the greatest artists of all time.”
Photographs by James O’Gara (Wethersfield) & Bryan Firestone (Annigoni Luncheon).