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The Phillips Collection has grown from two exhibition rooms in the Duncan Phillips home in 1921, when it opened as the first museum of modern art in America, to two buildings in which the domestic scale and ambiance of the original house have been maintained. Hornblower and Marshall's 1897 reinterpretation of early American architecture drew upon elements from both the eighteenth-century Georgian vocabulary (a modillion cornice and flat arches over the windows) and the Federal style that followed it (ovoid and semicircular bays and Adamesque decorative details).
Contrary to both of these traditions, the main facade composition is asymmetrical, with a tall projecting chimney breast bisecting the two bays to the south of the entrance, balanced by a wide Palladian window occupying the northernmost first-story bay. Shallow relief ornament carved in sandstone was used liberally on the bay entablatures, sandstone attic story, and particularly notably, on the shell motif in the lunette of the Palladian window. Moreover, the architects set the brick building upon a high basement of rock-faced sandstone, an element familiar from the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Both eclectic mixtures of styles and free compositions were design strategies inherited from the Victorian era. When classicism returned as the primary inspiration, such mixtures were frequently more synthetic than during the Victorian era, as the historical styles chosen shared design principles and architectural vocabularies derived from a common source. As in the Phillips house, the resulting forms are subdued, but, paradoxically, surface ornament is often as rich or richer than in the Victorian eclectic styles. Hornblower and Marshall were particularly adept at combining English and American Georgian and Adamesque motifs and manipulating them to create a new Colonial Revival style.
The historical precedent for the library wing added to the north in 1907 by Hornblower
In 1989, when Arthur Cotton Moore renovated Wyeth and King's 1960 addition, the Goh Annex, he responded to the building as a whole, deriving his massing and horizontal lines from the 1897 house and his architectural vocabulary from the later Renaissance-inspired addition. The bird logo over the entrance to the Goh Annex was inspired by a Braque painting. Moore's annex is divided into four levels, with the principal story raised high above a modern rusticated basement, an apsidal entry treated in antis, bracketed rectangular windows on the main story, and square windows in the attic. All of these elements are associated with the Italian Renaissance tradition in architecture, particularly as it was filtered through English Georgian buildings. Both sections of the earlier building are astylar; Moore introduced embryonic pilasters on the facade of the Goh Annex. His major contribution to the interior is the flying oval staircase that spirals up through three stories. Its heritage in terms of location, form, and details is generically Renaissance.
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