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Hall

The Hall served as a reception area and waiting room for visitors and a museum of American natural history, western civilization, and American Indian cultures.

View Room Panorama

Overview

Dimensions: 27' 11"x 23' 9"; ceiling 18' 2"

Order: Ionic with modillions  

Source: Palladio, with frieze ornaments from the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, from Desgodetz, Les édifices Antiques de Rome  

Color: Whitewash, with a yellow-orange dado (the portion of the wall below the chair-rail); floorcloth  

Architectural Features: Balcony connects two mezzanine-level wings; green floorcloth; ceiling features plaster eagle and stars pattern (see below).

Furnishings of Note: Great Clock with case designed by Jefferson. Art on display included eleven copies of Old Masters paintings, as well as busts of prominent figures such as Alexander Hamilton and Voltaire. The Declaration of Independence was celebrated with the display of two engravings, one showing John Trumbull's famous depiction of the signing, and the other John Binn's embellished print of the text. Indian artifacts numbered at least forty, including pipes, clothing, domestic objects, and a Mandan buffalo robe depicting a battle scene. The room held natural history specimens such as antlers and bones, as well as maps, such as one of Virginia as surveyed by Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, and Joshua Fry. To accommodate many visitors, the room contained up to twenty-eight chairs.

Objects on Display in this Room

Alexander Hamilton Bust (Sculpture)

Mapa Geografico De America Meridional (1799)

Americus Vespucius (Painting)

John Adams (Painting)

Ariadne (Sculpture)

Map of Africa (1802)

Carved Stone Heads (Sculpture)

Map of Asia (1801)

Declaration of Independence by Binns (Engraving)

Map of Europe (1798)

Declaration of Independence by Trumbull (Engraving)

Map of the United States of North America (1802)

Elk Antlers

Marble Top Tripod Table

Folding Ladder

Marble Trestle Table

Fry-Jefferson Map of Virginia

Moose Antlers

Great Clock

Pyramid of Cheops

Hanging Brass Argand Lamp

Saint Jerome in Meditation (Painting)

Jefferson Portrait by Gilbert Stuart (Painting)

Turgot Bust (Sculpture)

Jesus in the Praetorium (Painting)

Upper Jawbone of Mastodon

Madison Map of Virginia (1807)

Voltaire Bust (Sculpture)

Young Chief of Sack Nation (Painting)

Primary Source References

1808 March 18. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "Paps has been to Monticello. He says the hall is very beautifull [sic] now that it is done." [1] 

1809. (George R. Gilmer). "Three rooms of his house were left open, to be shown to strangers who might visit the place. I saw there Statuary, fine paintings, and a collection of Indian works. The statuary was very beautiful: I could not be satisfied with looking at it. The paintings did not at all equal the expectations which my scholastic reading had excited. The Indian remains were singular things." [2] 

1815 February 7. (George Ticknor). "You enter, by a glass folding-door, into a hall which reminds you of Fielding's 'Man of the Mountain' by the strange furniture of its walls. On one side hang the head and horns of an elk, a deer, and a buffalo; another is covered with curiosities which Lewis and Clark found in their wild and perilous expedition. On the third, among many other striking matters, was the head of a mammoth, or, as Curier calls it, a mastodon...On the fourth side, in odd union with a fine painting of the Repentance of Saint Peter, is an Indian map on leather, of the southern waters of the Missouri, and an Indian representation of a bloody battle, handed down in their tradition. Through this hall-or rather museum-we passed to the Dining Room..." [3]

1818 May 16. (Salma Hale to Arthur Livermore). "His house is filled with paintings and Indian relics, and a view of his rooms affords as much gratification as of a museum." [4]

1823-1824. (Jane Blair Smith). "...the lofty hall of entrance with its Indian trophies-its gallery decorated with enormous antlers-its walls covered with relics from all lands...was today relieved of its somber aspect: a sleeping statue of Ariadne had been removed to another part of the hall: a fireplace had been revealed in which burned a cheery [sic] wood-fire, produced a somewhat incongruous effect, for projecting over the mantel was a model of the [[Pyramid of Cheops]], the base so contrived as to contain a portion of the sand & pebble of the desert!" [5]

Footnotes

1. Edwin M. Betts, and James Bear, Jr., eds. Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1966, Rep. Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1986), 335-336.

2. George R. Gilmer, Sketches of Some of the First Settlers of Upper Georgia, of the Cherokees, and the Author (New York: Appleton, 1855), 242.

3. George Ticknor, Peterson, Merrill, ed. Visitors to Monticello. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1989, 62.

4. Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings XLVI(1913): 404.

5. Jane Blair Smith. "The Carys of Virginia." University of Virginia.

Further Sources

Discussion

says

This is one of my two favorite rooms in the house (the other his Jefferson's Cabinet). The intentionality with which Jefferson put this room together--and with which the curatorial staff has reconstructed it--is incredible. It served as Jefferson's calling card for the nation--he wanted to show his guests all the history and natural history that his new nation had to offer, and in doing so it's a microcosm of Jefferson's worlds, a kind of public-facing museum of political science and natural science. The artifacts, from mammoth teeth to maps to Indian goods to the great clock, are wonderful. And it serves as a grand way to introduce the public to Jefferson's home.

says

One of Jefferson's visitors called his Entrance Hall "a rich museum," another called it "enthusiastic clutter." Jefferson, writing to Meriweather Lewis in 1806, said he was preparing a "kind of Indian Hall." But it turned out to be more than that. It highlights the interests of a man of the Enlightenment, a reluctant politician, an enthusiastic paleontologist and a patriarch of old. I wish we could spend an hour in there with our visitors.

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