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Embassy of Belgium (Anna Thomson Dodge House)
Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer designed four Washington mansions, the last toward the end of his career for Anna Thomson Dodge in 1930. Most of Trumbauer's numerous opulent American palaces were inspired by classic examples of late seventeenth-and early eighteenth-century French models, including Versailles. He occasionally worked in partnership with French architects and frequently quoted directly from famous French prototypes. Pierre Lassurance's Hotel de Rothelin of 1700 at 101 Rue de Grenelle in Paris provided Trumbauer with the frontis-piece for the Dodge house. The three compressed center bays of the exceptionally wide nine-bay facade replicate the two-story Ionic portico of Lassurance's composition. Trumbauer repeats the double engaged columns and pilasters that frame the portico, the arched French doors on the ground story, and arched entablature above the second-story central arched window. Unlike many Washington mansions inspired by similar prototypes, Trumbauer's house has elaborate pedimental sculpture in imitation of its original model. Fine quality limestone and finely tuned proportional relationships among the portico elements themselves, and the portico's correlation with the overall facade, result in a building with elegance and grace that approaches that of its famous model.
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