Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

The Bonnet House, Part 2

(Courtyard doorway.)

The Bonnet House is filled with artwork by many artists, not just Frederic Clay Bartlett. However, due to the potential for copyright infrigement, photography is not allowed in the rooms of the estate. Thus, I am unable to share some of the interesting rooms such as the artist's studio, the shell museum, the music room, the dining room and, most regretably, the bamboo bar. Also, the upper story rooms are not available on the tour — no explanation was given, but I would speculate that termite damage may have weakened the structure and they do not want to do further damage with lots of tourists marching through.

(Roof detail.)

As would be typical for the well-to-do of the time, Bartlett traveled widely and he collected many fine pieces of artwork from all over the world. Many are on display in the rooms — and since I could not take photos to share, I guess you will have to visit in order to see them.

(Eagle over the entrance to the shell museum.)

And if you do visit, you will also be able to see artwork by Evelyn, Barlett's third wife, who became an accomplished painter in her own right. Additionally, the Bonnet House sponsors an annual competition — entries are on display in the gallery.


Fortunately, some of the artwork collection was deemed sufficiently sturdy to be allowed in the courtyard area, albeit under protective cover. Thus I am able to share a photos of some of these items since there were no restrictions on photography here.


Federic Bartlett and Helen (his second wife) collected French Post-Impressionistic and Modernist art. The collection was little appreciated by others at the time. However, you may recognize the names of some of the artists — Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Seurat.


In 1926, Bartlett gave The Art Institute of Chicago a collection of these paintings in memory of his second wife and collecting companion, Helen Birch Bartlett. Because of that lack of appreciation I mentoned above, upon his death in 1956, Evelyn Bartlett (third wife) donated a substantial amount of money for an expansion of the museum to house the collection. And we have to consider ourselves lucky that the Barletts had such foresight and resources to make that collection a reality and available to be seen by the public.


You may notice that some of the items shared here are functional such as the Ram (above) which is also a storage box. The next few examples are actually carousel animals — from back in the day when they are actually works of art employed for amusement of kids of all ages.


Interestingly, these carved animals are not the only animals that inhabit the estate. Evelyn introduced a small colony of Brazilian squirrel monkeys that occupied the grounds and trived on fruits and berries growing naturally on the estate and nearby. Unfortunately, the encrouchment of high-rise condominiums has reduced the food supply and increased the hazards so that the troup is much smaller and is not expected to survive much longer.

(Girafe closeup.)

Additionally, Evelyn enjoyed various pet birds such as macaws and Demoiselle cranes (from India). And since the land was quite wild at the time the estate was intially built, there were wildcats, snakes and other native species which would appear from time to time.

The lion and tiger carousel animals stand facing each other — you can almost hear the roars as they argue over who is really king of the jungle.

We conclude this part of the tour with another architectural detail — this wonderful sconce. Every turn on the tour brings another example of the artist's touch that went into the design of this wonderful estate.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com