Infusing her sensibility into every detail—from the Limoges vases in the chintz bedroom to the crystal-trimmed candelabra in the salon—Carrie Walter Stettheimer (1869–1944) wove together the fashion and style of New York’s high society in the early twentieth century to create one of the finest dollhouses in the world. Stettheimer worked on the twelve-room dollhouse for nearly two decades, creating many of the furnishings and decorations by hand. Styles of decoration vary from room to room, yet the wallpapers, furniture, and fixtures are all characteristic of the period following World War I. The result is a magnificent work of art, now in the permanent collection of the Museum of the City of New York.
What may be the most astounding aspect of the Stettheimer Dollhouse is its one-of-a-kind art gallery, featuring miniature works from renowned avant-garde artists of the 1920s. Along with her mother and two sisters—Florine, a painter whose works are in many major museum collections, and Ettie, a writer—Stettheimer hosted grand soirées attended by contemporary artists, including Alexander Archipenko, Marcel Duchamp, and Gaston Lachaise, who presented her with miniature works for her dollhouse. The Stettheimer Dollhouse showcases all the works created especially for the dollhouse, including Duchamp’s three-inch version of Nude Descending a Staircase.
Sheila W. Clark, Curator of the Toy Collection at the Museum of the City of New York, provides commentary about each artist in the collection, while descriptions and full-color photographs of each room in the dollhouse offer an intimate tour of this delightful masterpiece.