First Lady Caroline Harrison (1832-1892) and upholsterer Edgar Yergason (1840
-1920) were participants in a complex cultural reassessment of American taste at the end
of the nineteenth century. Their collaborative redecoration of the White House from 1890
– 1892 was the earliest decorative expression of the Colonial Revival in the President’s
House. The resulting interior challenges our conception of the Colonial Revival and
perception of upholsterer created interiors. Together Harrison and Yergason created a
picturesque re-imagining of the colonial that embraced modern technological advances
such as electricity and the luxuriant abundance typical of the late nineteenth century.
Caroline Harrison’s romantic view of history and artistic temperament were adroitly
translated by Yergason, setting the precedent for historicist interiors as the setting for the
presidency, and in so doing inspiring the beginning of a White House collection of
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Arts
Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, D.C.)
Masters Theses from the Corcoran College of Art + Design
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