Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Aunt Pittypat's Parlor, Miniaturized

As one of the most successful and critically acclaimed movies of all time, Gone with the Wind has influenced popular culture in countless ways both large and small. And today we're taking a look at one of the (quite literally) small ways it's made its influence known.

Below you'll find a photo of "Georgia Double Parlor, c. 1850," one of the 68 miniature rooms of historic European and American interiors that makes up the Thorne Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago. But if you mistook it for Aunt Pittypat's parlor, you're in good company. Mrs. James Ward Thorne, a wealthy socialite with a passion for history, created the collection of miniature rooms from 1934 to 1940, with a fine attention to detail, a fanatical commitment to historical accuracy... and in the case of this splendid room, a little Hollywood magic. Aunt Pittypat's parlor served as one of her main inspirations for its design:
"The furnishings derive not only from histories of the decorative arts of the period but also from the popular conception of ante-bellum plantation interiors depicted in the sets of Gone with the Wind. This hugely popular 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's equally loved novel of the same name (1936) did a great deal to create a visual vocabulary for the time and places it embraced. Thus, Mrs. Thorne's notes for this room include an article from the November 1939 issue of House and Garden, with an illustration of the bay from Aunt Pittypat's parlor, which provided the model for the bay in this interior."
--Miniature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago (Exhibition book)
The Thorne Rooms are on permanent exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, if you're ever in the Windy City and would like to see mini Aunt Pittypat's parlor "Georgia Double Parlor, c. 1850," up close and personal... in addition to 67 other charming miniature rooms. 

Georgia Double Parlor, c. 1850. Photo credit: The Art Institute of Chicago

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