A luncheon at Wethersfield to celebrate the ceiling frescoes by Pietro Annigoni

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Annigoni frescoes in the ”Gloriette” (highly decorated room) at Wethersfield.

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.

Wethersfield driveway.
A view of the fields, mist, and pond.
Wethersfield farm view.
Wethersfield arches.
Wethersfield Belvedere.
Cherubs …

Wethersfield Garden.
A flower bed.
Garden vista.
A resident peacock.
Allee and Urns …

Wethersfield House, Inner Garden.
Wethersfield House.
The Library.

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.

Guests gather for drinks on the loggia.
Giorgio Van Straten, honoree, outgoing director of Italian Cultural Institute of New York, arriving in front hall of Wethersfield.
L. to r.: Giancarlo Grisi and Lorraine Alexander, former editor of Gourmet; Dorsey Waxter, with blue hat in hand.
Dorsey Waxter.
Helena Baillie, concert violinist, wife of Joe Luzzi.
Gavin Curran, husband of Tara Shafer, Chauncey Stillman’s granddaughter, and Ted Dunn, husband of Giovanella Gentile Dunn; former mayor of Rye, NY, and former managing director at Morgan Stanley.
Stefania Van Straten.
Dr. Theo Stillman Budnik, retired general surgeon, daughter of Chauncey Stillman.
L. to r.: Charlie Pierce, director emeritus, Morgan Library and Museum; Antiques dealer, Gerry Bland (Gerald Bland Inc.)
Daniele Bodini, center, with Giancarlo Grisi and Giorgio Baravalle. Bodini is Founder of the American Continental Properties Group (ACPG).
Dorsey Waxter and Isabel Genuardi, wife of Italian Consul General, honoree.
Francesco Genuardi, Italian Consul General in NY, photographing Dosey Waxter and his wife, Isabel.
Donald Tober, Chairman of Sugar Foods Corporation.
Barbara Tober, Chairman Emerita, Museum of Arts and Design.
Therese Syversen, summer intern at Wethersfield, and Dr. Theo Stillman Budnik, ringing the gong for luncheon.
Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and Daniele Bodini.
Giorgio Van Straten, honoree, outgoing Director of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York; Barbara Pierce, trustee of Friends of Wethersfield, organizer of the luncheon; and Francesco Genuardi, honoree, Consul General of Italy in New York.
Table settings under the grape arbor. (Flowers by Felicity Banford; Catering by The Farmer’s Wife.)

Luncheon under the grape arbor.

Sally Dayton Clement, former trustee of Vassar.
Ted Dunn photographing Barbara Pierce, seated, trustee of Friends of Wethersfield, organizer of the luncheon, with Isabel Genuardi, wife of the Italian Consul General in New York (one of the two honorees), and Stefania Rampini, wife of the U.S. correspondent of La Repubblica.
A closeup of the trio.
Giovanella Gentile Dunn, granddaughter of Italian philosopher, Giovanni Gentile, wife of Ted Dunn.
L. to r.: Roy Budnik. A geologist, Roy is also renovating several historic buildings in nearby Poughkeepsie; Francesco Genuardi, Consul General of Italy in New York, one of two honorees 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 fresco, with portrait of Chauncey Stillman (center).

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).

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