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Behind the Scenes with Cabana

World-renowned photographer and editor, Miguel Flores-Vianna captures inspiring views of Monticello for Cabana Magazine

Miguel Flores-Vianna at Monticello

“…it may be said that Mr. Jefferson is the first American who has consulted the Fine Arts to know how he should shelter himself from the weather.”
-The Marquis de Chastellux, 1782, on his first visit to Monticello

International designers and artists continue to be inspired by Monticello’s simple, American beauty. Most recently, the eighth issue of Cabana, a premier European interiors magazine, features Monticello and select examples of American style from coast to coast.

With photos by Miguel Flores-Vianna and words by Edward Behrens, Cabana paints an intimate portrait of Thomas Jefferson’s world through the garments Jefferson wore, the rooms he designed and inhabited, and the natural beauty of his home’s surrounding landscape. Jefferson, a key early American tastemaker who combined European style with New World innovation, is heralded by Cabana as a man “looking to the past to live in the future.”

Flores-Vianna, a world renowned photographer and editor, has spent over 25 years chronicling the homes and lives of notable international artists, celebrities and trendsetters for T, Architectural Digest, World of Interiors, Vogue, Town and Country and more. His book, Haute Bohemians, was published by Vendome Press in September 2017. Flores-Vianna's two-day visit to Monticello coincided with the opening of Jefferson’s newly restored private suite giving him the opportunity to capture the first professional images of Jefferson’s Cabinet, Library and Bed Chamber.

Miguel’s Flores-Vianna’s photo of the Cabinet, one of the iconic rooms in Jefferson’s private suite that was restored in Spring 2017. Courtesy of Cabana.

Monticello staff, including Susan Stein, Vice President of Museum Programs and Richard Gilder Senior Curator, guided Flores-Vianna and his assistant around Monticello, sharing Monticello’s history and answering questions on objects that caught the photographer’s eye. Staff captured some behind-the-scenes action:

Curator Susan Stein stands by Flores-Vianna in the HallPhotographing natural history specimens.

Setting up in the ParlorFlores-Vianna takes photos as his assistant and Stein monitor.

After the photo shoot, Flores-Vianna shared what inspired him most about his experience at Monticello:

I loved many things about Monticello. First and foremost you cannot but feel so in awe of Jefferson, of his vision, culture and passion. To be in that place in the late 18th century, remote and isolated, as it must have been and to dream a country... that is an incredible thing.

I think that vision, his vision, is what makes all of you, today, at Monticello do what you do and be as you are. Because the second most remarkable thing that I found there was the commitment and passion for the place of EVERY single person I came across whilst in your company. In these times of fleeting interests, that was the next most incredible thing for me.

Of course to be there, just with a handful of people, from dawn to dusk, roaming freely through those rooms was an incredible privilege. Besides its unparalleled historical relevance, Monticello is breathtakingly beautiful. It was an honor, for me, to be part of it for a brief moment of its history.

One of the most exciting moments for staff was watching Flores-Vianna capture images of Jefferson’s clothing. The garments are part of Monticello’s collections, but not currently on view. As a red, sleeved waistcoat from 1797 was photographed, a curator recalled that Isaac Granger Jefferson, an enslaved blacksmith at Monticello, had described Thomas Jefferson as wearing such a coat in his recollections dicated to Reverend Charles Campbell in 1847:

Old Master wore Vaginny cloth and a red waistcoat, (all the gentlemen wore red waistcoats in dem days) and small clothes: arter dat he used to wear red breeches too.

Miguel Flores-Vianna’s photo of Jefferson’s red waistcoat. The coat’s length was shortened during Jefferson’s lifetime, and it is marked with Jefferson’s initials and the year it was made. Courtesy of Cabana.

The cover of Cabana’s “America, the Beautiful” issue was designed by Ralph Lauren and his family ranch was also featured in the issue. In 2010, Polo Ralph Lauren sponsored the restoration of Monticello’s dining room, including its remarkable chrome yellow hue.

The cover of the eighth Cabana issue, designed by Ralph Lauren.  Monticello’s restored dining room

The “Tea Room,” adjacent to the vibrant, yellow dining room, also inspired Flores-Vianna. Many of the objects he photographed there have been carefully reproduced for “At Monticello” collection and are available online »Miguel Flores-Vianna’s beautifully lit photo of the Tea Room. Courtesy of Cabana.

After two full days of beautiful weather spent photographing Monticello inside and out, Flores-Vianna and his assistant departed with warm wishes and a beautiful basket of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers picked fresh from the Monticello gardens.

Heirloom of varieties of produce and flowers like Jefferson would have grown, collected from the Monticello gardens.

For more of Flores-Vianna’s stunning images, pick up the eighth issue of Cabana online or at The Shops at Monticello.

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