Volume 22, Issue 2 | Autumn 2023

American Art History Digitally
sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art
From Zuni to Dupont Circle: Isabel and Larz Anderson’s Native American Collection

by Stephen T. Moskey and Isabel L. Taube

Scholarly Article|Interactive Feature|Project Narrative

figure 1
Fig. 1, Little and Browne (architecture firm), Winter Garden looking east in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.


Around the turn of the twentieth century, an A:shiwi (Zuni) woman in Halona:wa (Zuni, New Mexico), made the ceramic k’yabokya de’ele (water jar) that holds a potted orchid captured in a photograph of 1910 of a European-style winter garden located in Washington, DC (fig. 1).‍[1] Using locally produced clay, she molded it by hand, without a wheel, and decorated its horizontal and vertical bands of varying sizes and widths with natural black, brown, and red pigments. She likely learned this design, which is similar to that on other water jars made in Zuni beginning around the 1870s, from another woman in her family or community. The surface of the pot features natural motifs. Repeated and stacked on top of one another in the middle body of the jar are images of right-facing animals, most often interpreted as deer with lines running from their mouths to their triangular-shaped hearts. They are enframed by what Dwight Lanmon and Francis Harlow in The Pottery of Zuni Pueblo describe as “‘houses,’ formed of back-to-back feather motifs.”‍[2] They also are separated from each other by wide bands with vertically oriented decorative designs and narrow bands across the middle of the vessel with representations of birds with curling tail feathers. We do not know the identity of the woman who created this vessel, and we cannot be sure of her understanding of its symbolism, though it is deeply rooted in her culture’s engagement with the natural world and was made with ancestral, practical, and spiritual purposes in mind.‍[3]

figure 2
Fig. 2, J. & J. Williams, Larz and Isabel Anderson, Hawaii, 1897. Photograph. The Larz and Isabel Anderson Collection (1895–1948), Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston. Image in the public domain; courtesy of Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University.

How did this piece of pottery come to be photographed by the US photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864–1952) in a private home in Washington, DC, in 1910, and how did its new context alter its meaning? While its move from Zuni to Washington may not have noticeably changed the vessel’s material form, this shift in location did impact its surroundings and the significance and purpose assigned to it by its elite white owners. The room in which it appeared was the Winter Garden in the home of Isabel Weld Perkins (1876–1948) and Larz Kilgour Anderson (1866–1937) (fig. 2), who commissioned this photograph as part of a photographic campaign to document the house they had built and furnished at 2118 Massachusetts Avenue NW near Dupont Circle.‍[4] The Andersons, a wealthy, well-connected, cosmopolitan, and intellectually curious couple,‍[5] regarded Anderson House, as it is called, as their showpiece home, “arranged for stately functions of a limited size” to support their advancement in Washington society, which appears to have been Larz’s aim rather than Isabel’s.‍[6] It was also meant to facilitate Larz’s long-term goal of achieving high public office in political and diplomatic arenas, though this goal was never fully realized to his satisfaction.‍[7] To express and promote their cosmopolitanism, a trait particularly valued in Washington society and politics, they decorated their home with a diversity of objects that were intended to authenticate their travels and their familiarity with cultures worldwide. This article analyzes the display techniques and strategies that the Andersons used to make the Zuni water jar, along with other pottery and weavings from the Southwest, fit into their eclectic approach to decoration. As a result of their presentation at Anderson House, the objects and their meanings are refigured, revealing more about the Andersons and their aspirations than the identity and aims of their A:shiwi (Zuni), Haak’u (Acoma), Tewa Owingeh, Hopi, K’awaika (Laguna) and Diné (Navajo) makers.

The water jar and other Zuni, Acoma, Tewa, Hopi, Laguna, and Diné (Navajo) objects in their collection were acquired either during or shortly after the Andersons’ first visit to Zuni and Acoma lands in late February 1904 during a cross-country trip. The Andersons then installed them in their winter home in Washington as well as their country house in Brookline, Massachusetts, which they called “Weld” after Isabel’s maternal grandfather, William Fletcher Weld (1800–81), one of Boston’s wealthiest nineteenth-century merchants. Their home in Brookline (“Weld”) is no longer extant, but their house in Washington (Anderson House) along with its contents was gifted in the late 1930s to the Society of the Cincinnati and is now the society’s international headquarters and a historic house museum.‍[8] Today the Native objects the Andersons collected are dispersed, and the rooms in which they were housed have been rearranged, yet historical photographs of the interiors of their homes as well as diaries, trip journals, and household inventories enable us to consider why and how they engaged with Native American culture and made it fit into their cosmopolitan outlook shaped by their social and political ambitions as well as what we now regard as the imperialist tendencies of their time. These extant historical materials have informed the way that we conceptualized this article and its Interactive Feature. Since we cannot identify or locate each Native American object the Andersons collected, we instead analyze the installation of pottery and weavings in four rooms in Anderson House: the Winter Garden, the Billiard Room, the Cypress Den, and the Saloon (also known as the Ballroom). Essential to our interpretation are the Andersons’ travel writings and what these sources can tell us about their understanding of Indigenous cultures in the Southwest and how their attitudes aligned with those of their white, non-Native, mostly Northeastern contemporaries.

Our approach is informed by previous work on collecting and collections of Native American objects, broadly speaking, and on tourism and collecting in the Southwest. Since the 1980s, much scholarship has been done on museum collections, their imperialist and colonial histories, and the restitution of their holdings. Then, in 1999, Shepard Krech III, in his introduction to the edited volume Collecting Native America, called for more attention on collectors who acquired Indigenous artifacts and displayed them in their own museums.‍[9] Our project furthers Krech’s goal to closely examine the processes that shaped the acquisition of Indigenous artifacts and the intentions of the collectors. But our analysis of the Andersons is more than a biography of the collectors and a detailed investigation of their holdings; it offers a close analysis of the arrangement of their collections, situated not in a museum but in their home.‍[10] The Andersons’ well-documented collection provides a rare opportunity to explore how Indigenous objects were displayed in the homes of an elite couple who visited Native lands in the Southwest and interacted directly with Indigenous people in the early years of the twentieth century.‍[11] Our critical understanding of their travel experiences and acquisition of objects relies heavily on the extensive scholarship on tourism and souvenir collecting in the Southwest, and our interpretation of the aestheticization of the pottery and weavings is indebted to the art historian Elizabeth Hutchinson’s analysis of an artistic phenomenon that she calls “the Indian craze.”‍[12] One of the central challenges we have faced is that the archival records are limited to the Andersons’ perspective. We do not have the names or voices of the individual makers of the objects or their responses to the collectors. We therefore do not know how they might have viewed what may now be regarded as the Andersons’ “cultural imperialism” and appropriation of Native American pots and blankets for their own purposes while overlooking the impact that their acquisitions might have had on the Zuni, Acoma, Tewa, Hopi, Laguna, and Diné (Navajo) people.‍[13]

We begin with an analysis of the Andersons’ eclecticism before giving a detailed account of how the Native objects were collected and then displayed at Anderson House. We show how the pots and blankets became part of the Andersons’ story, revealing their aim to promote themselves as cosmopolitan.

The Andersons’ Eclecticism

Native American pottery and weavings collected by the Andersons played a prominent role in the eclectic displays in the Winter Garden, Billiard Room, Cypress Den, and Saloon, contributing to the visual and material representation of the Andersons’ cosmopolitanism. These objects created points of interest in these spaces and were juxtaposed with plantings, Greco-Roman-style sculptures, and architectural fragments in the Winter Garden (fig. 3); with a set of Japanese lacquerware, a Jain household shrine (ghar derasar) from India, caricatures of Washington notables, and personal and family memorabilia in the Billiard Room (figs. 4, 5); with a collection of “curios,” historical documents, and family portraits in the Cypress Den (fig. 6); and with more formal, European-style objects and furnishings in the Saloon (figs. 7, 8).‍[14] To reinforce cross-temporal and cross-cultural dialogues among the contents of these spaces, the Andersons created sightlines between objects that enabled viewers to compare them. For example, in the Billiard Room, the pottery, the Japanese lacquerware, and the Jain house shrine were arranged so that the eye was drawn along a path from one to the other, and the mind would imaginatively travel from New Mexico to Japan to India and through multiple centuries (see Sightlines: Arrangement of Objects in the Billiard Room for the layout of these objects). For this arrangement to work, formal, material, and cultural similarities and differences needed to be self-evident: viewers would recognize that the objects were all handcrafted in ways that required much labor and skill, and have allover surface decoration that includes animal and vegetal motifs. While these similarities may have brought them together, their cultural and material differences separated them and ensured the eclectic character of the arrangement: they have distinct mediums, shapes, and imagery that, in the case of the shrine and the pottery, had spiritual significance. (For more discussion of the pottery and the shrine, see Sightlines: Arrangement of Objects in the Billiard Room.)

figure 3
Fig. 3, Detail of Little and Browne (architecture firm), Winter Garden looking east in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.
figure 4
Fig. 4, Little and Browne (architecture firm), Northwest corner of the Billiard Room in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.
figure 5
Fig. 5, Little and Browne (architecture firm), Southwest corner of the Billiard Room in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.
figure 6
Fig. 6, Little and Browne (architecture firm), Northeast corner of the Cypress Den in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.
figure 7
Fig. 7, Little and Browne (architecture firm), Saloon looking west in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.
figure 8
Fig. 8, Detail of Little and Browne (architecture firm), Saloon looking west in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.

The Andersons’ arrangements of the pots and blankets in relation to other objects from disparate cultures reveal their embrace of eclecticism, a style of interior decorating popularized during the last several decades of the nineteenth century. The eclectic approach to interior decoration, which the Andersons adopted, had been advocated by design practitioners and reformers during the late nineteenth century and was embraced by artists as well as the middle and upper classes. It went hand in hand with the elevation of decorative objects and handicrafts to the status of art, begun during the aesthetic movement in the 1870s when the home, following the model of the artist’s studio, was transformed into an artful space and its designers acted like artists, composing and arranging the décor. Larz, who was an accomplished sketch artist, fancied himself a designer and worked closely with the architecture firm Little and Browne on the plans for Anderson House. He also took the lead on identifying and acquiring objects and most likely did the arranging of the interiors. Indeed, he served as his own curator, producing in 1911 an annotated inventory. His notes and annotations betray an intimate knowledge of the context, provenance, and quality of each of his objects. Though Isabel was interested in their collections, and often participated in the process of acquiring them, her primary role was to pay for everything from the income generated by a $5.7 million trust fund she received from the estate of her maternal grandfather after his death in 1881.‍[15] Larz’s artistic leanings, his passion for collecting, and his dedication to arranging his home were acknowledged by his childhood friend and Harvard classmate, the author and historian Charles Francis Adams Jr.:

Larz was the most brilliant of us. His was the mind of an artist, versatile in many ways. He saw the world as John Sargent saw the subject of a portrait, to discover character and meaning in the thing that met his eye. He had an instinct that chose the best, in proportion, in form, and in substance, and the power to express in words, in writings, or in drawings, the thoughts and visions of his fertile mind. . . . He loved to create and to plan, whether in this service [to his country], in arranging a voyage, or in creating a home, beautiful in conception, perfect in detail, and enriched by collections from all the world. In every plan some purpose was executed with perfection of taste and of detail.‍[16]

Adams’s description includes mention of many characteristics associated with the ideal eclectic collector and decorator who assembles diverse objects with a plan in mind and presents them in a purposeful way.

While there is a tendency to regard eclectic interiors as examples of Victorian clutter or bric-a-brac thrown together in a haphazard manner, this viewpoint is largely influenced by the antiornament and antidecoration bias of modernists in the early twentieth century and overlooks the careful consideration given to these arrangements. As Isabel Taube has explained elsewhere, an eclectic interior involved more than just assembling a diverse group of things, and its success depended on informed choices.‍[17] In fact, eclecticism, by definition, is more than just a synonym for diversity or plurality; it names a process or practice of selecting “what are considered the best elements of all systems” to form a new one.‍[18] While this concept has a long and complex history in philosophy and art history, we are necessarily limiting our discussion here to its impact on interior decoration, starting in the late nineteenth century.‍[19] Discussions of eclecticism in late nineteenth-century popular magazines and trade publications emphasized the difficult and serious study required to achieve a harmony of diverse elements in architecture as well as in the fine and decorative arts.‍[20] Eclecticism’s success depended on the judgment of a knowledgeable individual who could create a meaningful, original assemblage of elements, and on a discriminatory rather than a passive process of selection, based on clear intention and reason instead of chance and intuition. The variety found in an unsuccessful eclectic arrangement was seen as a mere compromise, lacking a definite position and pluralistic to the point of causing confusion. In one of Larz’s weekly essays that he wrote for an English class at Harvard, he remarked on what he regarded as an incongruous installation of a modern, “flimsy little” Japanese screen in front of the historic, grand chimney in the drawing room at Arundel Castle in England, revealing that, as a junior in college, he already was sensitive to the effect of an arrangement in an interior.‍[21] Moreover, his notations in the inventory of 1911, including “perfect,” “unusually fine piece,” “good specimen,” “beautiful specimen,” and “splendid and beautiful piece,” suggest that he viewed himself as a discriminating collector.

Late nineteenth-century interior-decorating manuals emphasized that meaningful approaches to eclecticism depended on objects being arranged uniquely in the service of the individual; otherwise, the final ensemble risked seeming too derivative, devolving into “dubious eclecticism” as decried by Edith Wharton (1862–1937) and Ogden Codman (1863–1951) in The Decoration of Houses, published in 1897.‍[22] In fact, the emphasis on individual choice and aversion to established modes associated with this method of decorating led to some nineteenth-century US commentators touting eclecticism as a national style, perhaps adding to its appeal for the Andersons.‍[23] In any case, the Andersons created interior arrangements that were determined by their personal backgrounds, travel experiences, and social aspirations so that the décor throughout Anderson House highlighted their identities: in both the Billiard Room and the Cypress Den they juxtaposed pottery and weavings from the Southwest with personal photographs and memorabilia.

By the time the Andersons started to collect in anticipation of furnishing their house, they already had been exposed to eclecticism in the homes of many friends and family members. They even lived in a house decorated in this manner prior to the completion of Anderson House. They leased Mr. and Mrs. Albert Clifford Barney’s Washington home during the winter social season of 1902, at the time that the designs for the Anderson House were being finalized just prior to the start of construction. The Barney house, at 1626 Rhode Island Avenue NW, was located in a fashionable area a few blocks from Dupont Circle, and the Andersons rented it fully furnished. As seen in an unpublished photograph from around 1900, Mrs. Barney, better known as the US painter Alice Pike Barney (1857–1931), decorated her home according to the kind of eclecticism described earlier (fig. 9). The gallery had paintings by artists from Europe and the United States lining the walls and contained European and US furniture; Asian objects, including a prominently displayed Chinese export vase in the shape of an archaic bronze vessel and a pair of bronze dragon sculptures on the table in the foreground of the photograph; and Middle Eastern carpets placed end to end on the floor. The living room (fig. 10) was decorated in a similarly eclectic manner, with Gothic, Renaissance, and late eighteenth-century French-style furnishings; a range of lighting fixtures from hanging bronze church lanterns to late nineteenth-century lamps with fringed silk sunburst shades; and the Victorian conceit of multiple vases arranged with bouquets of flowers throughout the room. In 1895, The Washington Post praised the beauty of the Barneys’ home, describing it as “one of the most artistic dwellings in Washington.”‍[24] As a progressive artist, Barney transformed her home into a work of art by artfully arranging her interiors. It seems likely that the Andersons would have absorbed interior decorating ideas during their temporary residence in her home.

figure 9
Fig. 9, Photographer once known, Gallery in ca. 1900, home of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Clifford Barney, Washington. Photograph. Alice Pike Barney Papers, 1861–1965, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
figure 10
Fig. 10, Photographer once known, Living Room in ca. 1900, home of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Clifford Barney, Washington. Photograph. Alice Pike Barney Papers, 1861–1965, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

The Andersons, however, did not merely copy what they might have seen in Barney’s home, the houses of their friends, or in decorating manuals. Rather, they created their own unique arrangements, fulfilling the decorating directive that the home should represent the owner’s personality, experiences, and history rather than conform to a decorator’s taste or someone else’s vision for the interior.‍[25] When the Andersons furnished their house in the years after its completion in 1905, eclecticism was not a particularly fashionable or cutting-edge approach to interior decoration. It was waning in popularity and criticized for its cluttered character as more consistent approaches to interior decoration, like the French historical styles in Washington and the colonial revival style more broadly, rose in prominence.‍[26] The Andersons, however, arguably preferred eclecticism, because it aligned with their self-promotion as a cosmopolitan couple and, by extension, with Larz’s desire for social advancement through political appointments in the US diplomatic service and elsewhere. This aesthetic sensibility became a means for them to project themselves as citizens of the world by acknowledging the richness and diversity of cultures across the globe and throughout history. In theory, this kind of cosmopolitan attitude was shaped by tolerance, openness, and freedom of thought, all concepts linked to democracy, but often it exemplified the imperialist behavior and attitudes of cultural superiority prevalent in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the historian Kristin Hoganson explains in her study of cosmopolitanism and its effect on interior decoration from 1865 to 1920, “Cosmopolitan domesticity did not imply a belief in the essential equality of all human beings or a profound understanding of other nations and cultures. Nor did it necessarily imply a willingness to open the nation’s borders to immigrants.”‍[27] Instead, as middle- and upper-class collectors like the Andersons experienced cultures worldwide through travel, they brought objects from other cultures back to the safety of their own homes and freely incorporated them into their eclectic interiors, where the objects helped to construct their own cosmopolitan identity.

Like the other objects in their collection, the pottery and weavings from the Southwest were brought into associational relationships with the other art objects and personal memorabilia at Anderson House. This approach counters that of many collectors at the time who preferred to isolate and segregate Native American objects in so-called Indian corners, a popular and widely promoted home decoration phenomenon that consisted of self-contained corners or alcoves filled with Native handicrafts in a variety of materials and from a wide range of places across the United States.‍[28] One could purchase the contents of an “Indian corner” from mail-order catalogues or create one’s own version. Such corners could be quite elaborate, like the one in the cartoonist and publisher Joseph “Udo” Keppler’s Inwood, Manhattan, home, as seen in a photograph from an article on his collection in The Papoose, a magazine published monthly by the Hyde Exploring Expedition (fig. 11). Like their forerunners, the nineteenth-century “cozy corners,” the early twentieth-century “Indian corners” were intended to add to the artistic effect of the home while providing a retreat from modern urban culture, though, as Hutchinson argues, they were a “quintessentially modern” form of consumption and production since many of the objects were purchased out of catalogues and produced in large quantities for sale to non-Natives.‍[29] Similar to the “Indian corner” was the display in the salesroom at the Indian and Mexican Building, which opened next to the Hotel Alvarado in Albuquerque in 1902 (fig. 12). The Andersons saw it when they stayed at this hotel in 1904 but chose not to emulate it in their own displays. Rather than adopting this modern decorating feature or the grouping of tourist souvenirs that they saw in the Indian store in New Mexico, the Andersons presented the Native handicrafts in their homes together with other objects that they had collected during their travels.

figure 11
Fig. 11, Photographer once known, Alcove in Joseph “Udo” Keppler’s home in Manhattan, 1903. Photograph. Published in “A Rare Collection,” The Papoose 1, no. 2 (January 1903), 6. Image in the public domain; courtesy of myinwood.net.
figure 12
Fig. 12, Left: Photographer once known, General View, Interior of Indian Building, Albuquerque, New Mexico, n.d. Postcard, Fred Harvey series, published by Detroit Publishing Company. Right: Verso of postcard shown at left, with a brief description of the collection of handicrafts in the Indian Building and the activities of making that took place there. Curt Teich Postcard Archives Digital Collection, Newberry Library, Chicago. Image in the public domain; available from: Curt Teich Postcard Digital Archives, Newberry Library.

How the Andersons Collected Native American Objects

The Andersons’ eclecticism depended on actual encounters with other cultures facilitated by their numerous trips across the country and abroad and on the collecting of objects that served to authenticate their travels. By the time the Andersons ventured to the Southwest in 1904, they already had developed a method of collecting. Rather than staying home and engaging in so-called armchair exploration—exclusively collecting artifacts at nearby auctions, shops, or antique markets, or going to world’s fairs—the Andersons preferred to buy art directly from galleries and shops while traveling abroad, though they sometimes negotiated the purchase themselves or through an agent by mail afterwards, and they did not always get what they thought they had bargained for.‍[30] They purchased a number of items from well-known dealers in Europe and India, including George Joseph Demotte in Paris; Jacques Goudstikker in Amsterdam; E. G. Vickers and Company in Naples; and Watson & Company in Bombay (now Mumbai). They also negotiated on site for some of their objects, as was the case with the Mexican carved-walnut confessional chair that they “acquired out of [the] Cathedral at Cordoba [sic], Mexico while on a trip there in 1901 . . . in exchange for a contribution to the repair of the church after obtaining [the] assent of the Bishop.”‍[31] They then supplemented their acquisitions from their travels by shopping in the places where they lived, for example, at Koopman Antiques in Boston and V. G. Fischer in Washington, DC, rather than at Duveen Brothers or M. Knoedler & Company in New York. The objects in their homes, therefore, were not meant to create the illusion that they traveled the world and brought home souvenirs, or “curios” as they popularly were called during their period; rather, the objects memorialized their actual travels, which are further preserved in Larz’s thirty-eight volumes of transcribed-and-bound trip journals and Isabel’s ten published travel books. While their written accounts enabled them to share with a reading public the knowledge they gained of other cultures, their collections incorporated world cultures into their daily lives and social engagements and promoted their worldliness.

The Andersons continued with this approach to collecting based on direct experience on their first trip to Arizona and New Mexico in 1904 and on their subsequent visits to New Mexico in 1915 and 1927. While a complete inventory of the Native American objects they acquired does not exist, it is possible to hypothesize about their collecting methods and the types of objects they acquired by studying the Johnston photographs, their travel writings, Anderson House inventories, correspondence in the Matilda Coxe Stevenson Papers housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Anthropological Archives, and records at the Boston Children’s Museum where Isabel gifted items from their collection.‍[32] These materials serve as the basis for our discussion below.

Their first purchases of Native American handicrafts likely were Diné (Navajo) blankets, two of which they displayed in the Cypress Den. These blankets were popular among easterners who visited the Southwest and were aggressively promoted by the railroad and tourist industries since the late nineteenth century.‍[33] In a diary entry written in Flagstaff, Arizona, Larz remarked:

We have the Navaho [sic] blanket fever – and at every stop we visit shops (such as they are) and look over quantities of all sorts and conditions of weaving. W. and K. [friends traveling with them] are becoming experts but I know less the more I see. The [private railroad] car is hung with our purchases – and every time we come in again from a tour we conclude that we were deceived in our last purchases. But we have a good deal of fun out of it all.‍[34]

As this comment reveals, Larz and his guests shopped along their railroad route in what he seems to have regarded as not well-appointed, perhaps makeshift, stores intended for tourists passing through the Southwest. He also suggests that he and his guests are uninformed shoppers who take pleasure in their purchases despite their lack of knowledge and the possible duplicity of the sellers. Decades later, during the Andersons’ final trip to the Southwest in 1927, Larz reflected on these purchases in a more assured and proud manner in a diary entry of 1927 from Gallup, New Mexico, written at the Fred Harvey Hotel, also known as “El Navajo,” a popular tourist destination, where they were staying:

The blankets and silver work of the Navaho [sic] are much prized; especially the blankets, which they doubtless originally learned to make from the Pueblo Indians, and which are among the most beautiful examples of native craft. From the Harvey collection of blankets at Albuquerque, which was the finest in [the] world at the time, we had acquired on our first visit many years ago some splendid specimen [sic] of bayetta and Chief blankets which are now hung in my Cypress Den in Washington.‍[35]

Larz’s comments suggest that he saw himself in 1927 as a much more confident and knowledgeable collector who took pride in the selection of blankets that he had purchased on his first trip and that he had hung in his “Cypress Den” in Washington. His mention of “the Harvey collection of blankets in Albuquerque” reveals that on the trip in 1904 when he and Isabel stayed at the Hotel Alvarado in Albuquerque, they acquired Diné (Navajo) blankets from the Fred Harvey Indian Department at the Indian and Mexican Building, which had opened next to the hotel in 1902 and sold a wide range of goods produced by local, Native artisans for tourists, serious collectors, museums, and dealers.‍[36]

While they purchased Diné (Navajo) weavings from stores aimed at tourists along the railroad route and from the Fred Harvey Indian Department in the depot complex at Albuquerque, they may have collected smaller items like jewelry, feathers, talismans, and knife sheaths, and maybe pottery, directly from the Zuni, Acoma, and Hopi Pueblos during their trip in 1904. An accident of history led to their first visit to Zuni and Acoma lands. They set off from Boston, Massachusetts, on a cross-country trip in January 1904, but they had no idea that after visiting tourist sites, including the Grand Canyon and the cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon in Arizona, their private train car, “Lucania,” would be sidetracked in Gallup, near what Larz identified as “the Zuni Pueblo.”‍[37] This unplanned stop resulted in their decision to take two surreys and a baggage wagon to Zuni, “just forty-five miles off the great railway,” where they stayed overnight and observed ritual dances and daily activities of baking and grinding meal as well as women “filling their ollas at the well and carrying them away balanced on their heads.”‍[38] As Larz remarked after their return to Gallup, “We are just out from the Zuni Pueblo and have had one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.”‍[39]

On this trip in 1904, the Andersons initiated their collecting of Native American objects from the Southwest, and in the inventory of 1911 Larz identifies the pottery as having been collected in situ. Beneath the typed entry for the “gourd in thong strapwork sling” is a note in Larz’s handwriting: “This piece of pottery ( ) and the collection below were acquired while on trip to New Mexico and Arizona in 1904 in private car ‘Lucania,’ when the pueblo of the ‘Zuni’ was visited and ‘Acoma.’”‍[40] However, given constraints on what they could transport from Zuni back to the train by horse-drawn surrey, and space limitations on the train, it seems likely that they brought only small items from Zuni and Acoma with them back to Washington and had other, larger pieces from Hopi, Zuni, and Acoma shipped later. Indeed, Larz notes in his journal: “We had our last dinner on the car (for the others insisted on leaving us) and had a lot of fun dressing up as Indians (an Indian dinner) in the blankets and necklaces and feathers that we had.”‍[41] Though he mentioned “playing Indian” with some of the items they acquired—an activity linked to their white privilege—he did not write about the purchase of pottery in the account of his travels.‍[42]

Their impromptu encounter with the ethnologist Matilda Coxe Stevenson (1849–1915) may provide another explanation for their acquisition of pottery as well as the evolution of their understanding of Native American cultures.‍[43] Stevenson, an ethnologist for the Smithsonian’s Bureau of American Ethnology, was renowned for her intimate knowledge of the language, philosophy, religion, and social life of the Zuni people, albeit acquired in an exploitative and opportunistic manner motivated by her desire to record and preserve as much information about the culture as possible, regardless of the consequences of her actions.‍[44] Both Larz’s trip journal and Isabel’s travel book Odd Corners, published in 1917, describe the Andersons’ delight when they met Stevenson at Zuni while having dinner at the trading store where they would spend the night. Larz’s account reads as follows:

Well, to describe our further good luck – in a few words – at the supper at the store – the trading store at which we passed the night – we met a Mrs. Stevenson – who has passed her life among these people and is the Smithsonian student of them and their ways – is called “Mother” by them – and through her we enjoyed a most indescribable evening – for she took us to see the dances within doors – they dance almost all night – and these are the most peculiar of all – in their estufas – visiting one after another.‍[45]

Isabel’s account echoes that of Larz:

But our good fortune did not end here. That night we had dinner at the trading store (which was pretty dirty), and met Mrs. Stevenson, who was the Smithsonian student of Zuñi Indians, and had passed her life among them. Of course she knew them as no one else could, and because they loved her, calling her “mother,” she had many privileges that no one else enjoyed. It was through her kindness that we spent quite the strangest evening of our lives, for she took us to see the dancing in the estufas, the chapter houses, which outsiders rarely enter.‍[46]

As their comments suggest, Larz and Isabel were amazed not only by the dances they had the privilege to see at Zuni but also by their discovery of a white woman from Washington among the Zuni people.‍[47] Taking into consideration other remarks they made about not being able to communicate with the Zuni, it is not surprising that they were pleased to meet Stevenson, who would serve as their interlocutor while providing them with access to and knowledge about the Zuni as well as with what they regarded as a more authentic experience than that of the average tourist. Stevenson had just returned from Washington to Zuni at the end of January 1904, only a short while before the Andersons’ arrival, to “resume her comparative study of the pueblos and to collect material illustrating Zuni symbolism for the bureau’s forthcoming exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition,” scheduled to open in April 1904.‍[48] After they returned from their Southwest trip, Larz and Isabel stayed in touch with Matilda, who spent long periods of time in Washington, which was both her home and her place of employment. It is clear from surviving correspondence from the Andersons to Stevenson, now housed at the National Anthropological Archives, that she inspired the Andersons’ deep appreciation for Zuni culture and informed their understanding of Native American culture more generally.‍[49]

Based on the chronology of events and documentation of travel and personal contact, we believe that the Andersons may have selected pieces while in the Southwest, which were shipped to them a year or so later by Stevenson or another agent.‍[50] They previously used pointers or agents in acquiring sculptures, architectural fragments, and paintings from Rome, and their visits abroad often were facilitated by personal and diplomatic connections.‍[51] They received introductions to established scholars who provided them with rare and exclusive access to Indigenous and foreign cultures not available to the average tourist. For example, during an extended visit to Japan in 1888, prior to his marriage to Isabel, Larz was introduced to Japanese arts and crafts by the celebrated scholar, museum curator, and collector Ernest Fenollosa (1853–1908).‍[52] In 1927, while on a repeat visit to Mesa Verde in Arizona, the Andersons met archeologist and park director Jesse Logan Nusbaum (1887–1975) and his wife Aileen Nusbaum (1889–1939), an author of Native American studies. Larz’s most informed journal entry on his visits to Native American sites is the discussion in 1927 of Mesa Verde, an example of how his perception and understanding of a culture different from his own was enhanced by experts he met in the field.‍[53]

figure 13
Fig. 13, Detail of Little and Browne (architecture firm), Northwest corner of the Billiard Room in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5, showing a Zuni jar possibly acquired by the Andersons in 1905. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.

The Smithsonian Institution’s records further support our hypothesis about Stevenson’s involvement in the Andersons’ acquisition of Zuni ceramics. They reveal that in January 1905 Stevenson shipped dozens of pieces of Zuni pottery to Washington. Many of the Smithsonian’s pieces are similar to those documented in Johnston’s photograph of the Billiard Room in 1910. For example, an undated A:shiwi (Zuni) “Kiarvinikyitehli” Water Vase recorded at the Smithsonian as originally collected from Zuni Pueblo by Matilda Coxe Stevenson, on January 27, 1905, looks almost identical to a pot in the Anderson collection (fig. 13). Stevenson was not per se a reseller of Native American objects, but her biographer, Darlis A. Miller, reports that the ethnologist often bought what were considered high-quality objects from artisans at Zuni and other pueblos, even if the Smithsonian ended up not wanting them, because she knew that she could easily sell them to private collectors.‍[54]

Perhaps Stevenson also instructed the Andersons about how to barter with the Zuni for pottery and assisted them with their transactions, informing them about the kinds of things that might be exchanged for the items they collected. As Isabel remarked about the Zuni in Odd Corners, “They [the Zuni] were a self-respecting people and would not accept money, although they would take presents of tobacco and shells. Nor did they seem anxious to sell any of their belongings. It was truly delightful to find them so unspoiled.”‍[55] She then concludes her book chapter saying that she and Larz wanted to thank them for “allowing us to witness their ceremonies. . . . We consulted Mrs. Stevenson, and she told us they prized a certain kind of shell from the Pacific coast. After a great deal of difficulty we at last succeeded in finding the desired variety.”‍[56] The chapter ends with a transcription of the reply that the Andersons received from someone whom Isabel refers to as the “Indian chief,” who expressed gratitude for their gift.‍[57] This correspondence also demonstrates the Andersons’ apparent effort to interact with the Zuni on their own terms, though they admittedly recognized their differences and considered them less civilized.‍[58]

The Andersons would subsequently acquire Acoma, Hopi, Tewa, Laguna, and Zuni pottery directly from the pueblos, as archival evidence suggests. In his description of their visit to “the Pueblo of Acoma” in 1915, Larz commented: “We climbed to its summit and went in to the adobe dwellings, climbing ladders to the roofs where the people went at their works, and bought a few bits of pottery (but no longer the like to what we got years ago).”‍[59] This statement about “years ago” refers to the Acoma pieces they acquired either on or just after their earlier trip in 1904 and also indicates that in Larz’s estimation as well as that of Stevenson and other early twentieth-century activists and critics, the quality of the pottery was in decline.‍[60] A photograph from their trip in 1927 pasted into Larz’s travel journal demonstrates their method of direct acquisition.‍[61] It shows what appear to be a group of Kewa women, perhaps potters, at what was then known as the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico, assembling a group of blackware vessels at the back of the Andersons’ “Harveycar,” a Packard Eight and “one of the fleet of the newly established ‘Indian detour’ system for going in to the astonishing Indian lands” provided by the Fred Harvey Company.‍[62] As Larz’s comments reveal, tourism and the commercial trade of handicrafts in this region was well-established, and it is significant that Larz accepted the vehicle but refused what he referred to as the “Courier maid” who would accompany tourists on their travels and assist them in selecting where to visit and what to buy.‍[63] As Larz made clear in his diary entry, the Andersons regarded themselves as seasoned travelers, even in “Indian country,” and did not need a guide who might compromise the authenticity of their experience and limit their freedom to explore. As suggested by this remark, Larz sought to elevate himself and Isabel from average, middle-class tourists who experienced the Southwest in a prescribed way, following the instructions of commercial guides and guidebooks.

While the “Indian craze” in interior decoration already was underway when the Andersons made their first visit to the Southwest, their approach to collecting directly from producers on their lands rather than only at railway depots or stores was less common before the rapid and widespread growth of the Southwest tourist industry in the 1910s and 1920s, due, as Hutchinson explains, to “the blossoming of domestic tourism during the years when World War I made European travel impossible and then with the expansion of automobile travel in the twenties.”‍[64] While non-Natives had been visiting and studying the Southwest and acquiring as well as forcibly removing Native handicrafts since the nineteenth century, the Andersons began their collection and installed it in their homes before the modern tourist infrastructure—which included a fully integrated cross-country train that did not require transfers at “railheads”; comfortable hotels with tourist services like guides; local transportation; and markets and gift shops that housed many kinds of local arts and crafts under one roof in hotel lobbies and near train stations—became routine in the Southwest. Their collecting activity also started in advance of the campaign to reform US Indian policy in the 1920s when the government gave up assimilation, which aimed to eradicate Native American culture, and before preservationists sought to promote Native handicrafts. Furthermore, they were there before the founding of the Santa Fe art colony; and the arrival of art patrons such as Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879–1962), and collectors like Alfred C. Barnes (1872–1951), whose collection was the subject of a recent exhibition.‍[65]

Unlike some of their wealthy, white contemporaries, the Andersons did not amass a large collection of Native American objects with the intention of opening a museum or donating it to a museum for the purposes of education and cultural preservation.‍[66] Though Anderson House is now a historic house museum, it was not initially built for that purpose but rather for living and entertaining. The Andersons’ collection also was not intended to be encyclopedic, and it does not seem as though they acquired their objects in a particularly methodical way, for example, by being advised by art historians and dealers on the breadth and scope of their collection. In contrast to their contemporaries who were well-known collectors of Native American objects, like Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1842–1919), a neighbor of theirs in the Dupont Circle area of Washington, they did not donate objects, pay for already formed collections, or fund expeditions that gathered artifacts in a systematic manner.‍[67] They also did not purchase most of their Native American objects from the Fred Harvey Company of Albuquerque as Hearst did.‍[68] They preferred to visit the pueblos and see the living culture, which they, like other Euro-Americans, believed was in decline. Their travel writings reveal that they were aware of government projects like a dam that was going to disrupt Zuni land use, and that they were against the government’s attempt to educate “the Indian,” but there is no evidence that they advocated for Native rights in Washington or gave to organizations supporting Native communities.‍[69] Instead, like Stevenson and other ethnologists, they accepted the disappearance of Native culture and regarded the items they collected as more valuable due to their scarcity and the fact that they were not all acquired through tourist venues and stores. Rather than buying touristware produced for sale as “souvenir evidence” for travel, they owned at least some pottery that seems to have been made for and used by its makers, lending it an air of authenticity. For example, Dwight Lanmon, who once owned the Zuni heart-line deer jar discussed elsewhere in this article, noted that its rim clearly shows damage from being used in situ as a water jar at Zuni prior to the Andersons’ acquisition of it.‍[70]

As Larz’s journal entries and annotations in the inventory of 1911 attest, the Andersons prided themselves on collecting genuine, rare, and culturally-significant objects from around the world though, given their budget, they did not necessarily need to all be museum quality.‍[71] Larz noted the locations where he purchased the pottery in the inventory and mentioned its acquisition in his travel journal, and Isabel published an account of their trip to the Southwest in Odd Corners in 1917, reinforcing their direct observation of the making and use of pottery. It also is significant that what is featured in the Johnston photographs, which were intended to document their house for posterity, were not the smaller items like jewelry, feathers, talismans, and knife sheaths but the Southwestern pottery and weavings, two types of handicrafts that Larz and others from Northeast intellectual circles regarded as the best and most characteristic examples of Indigenous artistic and cultural production.‍[72] In his journal from the Andersons’ trip in 1927 to New Mexico, Larz wrote admiringly about the Southwest and the artistic abilities of the “Pueblo Indians”:

All our Southwest is a wonderland of amazing ruins of a primitive but well advanced civilization of prehistoric peoples, as well as the home of the picturesque modern Pueblo Indians whose culture comes down from the [sic] of the ages past. . . . In the arts they were remarkable, for their sense of beauty was evidently keen and their work “though primitive” was true: “rarely realistic, generally symbolic”: their decoration was really beautiful even according to our standards of today (if not far better than our ‘modern art’).‍[73]

Larz’s remarks, with their emphasis on ruins and picturesque “Pueblo Indians” skilled at “primitive” and “symbolic” decoration, conform to the way in which the Southwest and “Pueblo Indians” were described in tourist guidebooks and articles on interior decorating beginning in the late nineteenth century and come from a position of cultural superiority. As literary scholar Leah Dilworth convincingly argues, the “Pueblo Indians” were more appealing than the “Plains Indians” to people like the Andersons, because “unlike the Plains Indians, who were usually represented as savage (though sometimes noble) warriors, the Pueblos were a ‘semi-civilized,’ self-sufficient, settled, and agricultural people who lived in houses and produced attractive handicrafts.”‍[74] Handmade objects that required effort and skill were particularly valuable to the Andersons and their culture in the wake of the late nineteenth-century arts and crafts movement and at a time when industrial manufacture and machine-made goods, which had come to dominate the marketplace, were looked upon with suspicion.

The Display of Pottery and Weavings from the Southwest at Anderson House

The Andersons identified Native handicrafts as “art objects,” as revealed by the inventory of 1911, and presented them at Anderson House as part of their eclectic collection in a purposeful way that aligned with their aesthetic and cultural aims and values but did not always conform to those of their elite cohort.‍[75] At Anderson House, Diné (Navajo) blankets were hung on the walls like tapestries in the Cypress Den; Zuni heart-line deer jars served as jardinières in both the Winter Garden and the Saloon; and Acoma, Hopi, Zuni, and possibly Laguna pots were stacked and installed in and on top of a display cabinet with glass doors in the Billiard Room.

The presentation of the blankets, the Zuni water jars, and the other vessels accords with then-current home decorating trends that aimed to transform Native handicrafts into objects with decorative value. For example, in a 1908 article in Home and Garden, Charles Francis Saunders (1859–1951) extolled the virtues of using water jars as decorative items in the home: “One of the most useful forms for home decoration is the water jar. . . . The large ones with their striking designs in red and black on a white ground are particularly effective as jardinièrs [sic] for the veranda or a corner of the living room.”‍[76] Without naming it, Saunders describes what became a fashionable trend featuring what was known as the “Pueblo jardinière.”‍[77] In the Billiard Room, a wood cabinet with a glass front that housed the pottery recalls vitrines used to display objects in a wide variety of contexts, including department stores, world’s fairs, and art and ethnographic museums. This type of display, which presented the viewer with an orderly, fixed perspective, was both domesticated and aestheticized in the Billiard Room with the adoption of an intricately carved piece of European furniture that harmonized with the other furnishings in the space. To fit the pottery in the cabinet, the Andersons may have removed shelves so that the pots could be stacked on top of one another, a method of installation possibly recommended by Stevenson. A photograph in her files at the National Anthropological Archives shows a similar arrangement in a storage area or workroom at what was then called the United States National Museum. The Andersons’ arrangement as well as that at the museum also may have been inspired by the stacked pots used to create chimneys that Isabel and Larz saw on domestic structures at Zuni, as seen in a ca. 1880 photograph taken by John K. Hillers who was the chief photographer for the United States Geological Survey and the Bureau of American Ethnology (fig. 14).‍[78]

figure 14
Fig. 14, John K. Hillers, View in Zuni, Looking Northeast, ca. 1880. Albumen silver print. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In all instances, the display formats altered the intended function of the objects, transforming them into art to be looked at: the blankets were no longer worn as clothing and had a different physical orientation as they were hung on walls like tapestries and were not wrapped around a human body, and the pots no longer held water and were not carried to a well and back. Many of the objects’ specific cultural meanings, including any connections to ancestors and the past, also had been erased. The Andersons may have learned about the pottery from Stevenson, who gave a detailed description of the process of its making but offered little interpretation of the meaning of its designs, stating that “few [Zuni], however, fully understand the meaning of the symbols depicted on the modern ware, and the wisest of them are unable to decipher many of the symbols on the ancient pottery found in the ruins near by [sic].”‍[79] A few pages later, she wrote: “Much of the modern pottery is decorated with animal forms, with an attempt to depict them as such, while birds and animals in the ancient ware are so highly conventionalized only the initiated can determine the original of the motive.”‍[80]

We can infer generally what the Andersons thought from their writings, but we do not have their analysis of each pot. In his 1927 travel journal, Larz wrote: “The Pueblo Indians, as the most civilized of their race, had been the first to weave blankets: and to make beautiful potteries, expressing their art sense in pottery, with decoration in geometric and symbolic design to indicate the greatly desired rain and clouds and lightning, and figures of beasts and birds.”‍[81] Larz reiterated the widely held belief among tourists and ethnologists that “the Pueblo Indians” were more civilized than other tribes as evidenced by their artfully produced handicrafts. He also understood the imagery on the pots as an expression of “the Pueblo Indians’” close relationship to, and dependence on, the natural world.

While the Andersons’ display techniques treated the Native objects as “art” to be integrated into displays with other art objects, the rooms where they appeared offer further evidence of the couple’s eclecticism. Most of the objects were installed in spaces used for smaller gatherings or personal leisure and business activities. For example, a Zuni pot became a feature of the Winter Garden, where Isabel hosted female guests after dinner in natural surroundings associated with women as well as with Native culture. Pots and weavings also were presented in the Billiard Room, where Larz entertained his male guests, and in the Cypress Den, where he attended to personal business affairs. Billiard rooms and dens, typically male spaces in upper-class homes where wealthy men exercised their pastimes and business interests, were often furnished with so-called exotic things from faraway places and cultures regarded as unfamiliar and different, often meaning less civilized or primitive. The Andersons and their guests likely regarded the Southwest and its Native culture as exotic, despite their location in the United States. In their accounts of their travels to Acoma and Zuni, the Andersons frequently used adjectives like “strange,” “queer,” and “picturesque” to describe “Indians” and their daily and ceremonial rituals.‍[82] This rhetoric aligns with that found in tourist and ethnographic literature beginning in the late nineteenth century, in which the Southwest was perceived, as Dilworth argues, as “an other to the nation” due to its imagined primitive character and its difference from the non-Native culture in the United States.‍[83] As Dilworth explains, “In the tourist literature and the ethnography of the region, the Southwest was often compared to the biblical Middle East or ancient Greece. Americans were told that they need not journey to distant lands when ancient ruins, magnificent landscapes, and exotic peoples existed within their nation’s own borders.”‍[84] With this in mind, it must have seemed appropriate to the Andersons to locate the pottery and weavings in rooms whose character already was affiliated with an exotic ambience. Moreover, as exotic objects, the pottery and weavings would have been regarded as particularly suitable for the Andersons’ eclectic arrangements. In the Billiard Room, for example, the pots were accompanied by other objects with exotic associations, such as the Japanese lacquerware and the Jain household shrine.

While it is tempting to say that the Andersons entirely conformed to the expectations of their elite cohort, they defied convention as well by including a Zuni heart-line deer jar in the Saloon, the grandest, perhaps most formal, room in the house, where they hosted large events and which they filled with objects that have aristocratic, even regal, as well as ecclesiastic associations (see the Interactive Feature, An Evening at Anderson House, for details). The jar, however, does not seem out of place, because it was in the corner near a group of plantings, and when the Billiard Room doors were open, as they are in the Johnston photograph, a sightline connects this piece of pottery to the others in the adjacent Billiard Room. For the Andersons’ guests, it may have seemed inappropriate to include the jar in an eclectic arrangement with tapestries, gilded furnishings, and marble sculpture linked to Anglo-European aristocratic taste, but for the Andersons, it was a valued object that authenticated what they regarded as a significant trip to the Southwest. They also likely saw it as contributing to their cosmopolitanism, as it diversified the otherwise mostly Anglo-European character of the Saloon.

For eclecticism to work, analogies must be established between things that seem unalike. In the case of the Zuni heart-line deer jar and the jardinière, a Native and a non-Native type of object, both serve as containers for holding something: water and plants, respectively. The similarity in their forms and functions means they can be swapped so that the Zuni deer jar assumes a new function in the Winter Garden and the Saloon as a container for a flowering plant. What makes the jar suit its new context in the Winter Garden even better is its natural clay material and deer image that align with non-Native perceptions of the Zuni being closer to nature and that contribute to the overarching experience of nature in a highly constructed indoor space transformed into an interior garden, an invention favored by British and European nobility since the seventeenth century. The jar that had once been used by Zuni people to collect and store water for personal use and for agriculture was now juxtaposed in the highly formalized setting of the Winter Garden with a sculpture of Neptune (the god of both fresh and salt water), a sculpture of Narcissus (a young man obsessed with his watery reflection), and a large alabaster water basin, which became its coequal partners in the decoration of this indoor garden. In this room, the eclectic arrangement appeared to be unified by a theme that links a Zuni vessel with an antique tradition of figurative sculpture in Anglo-European culture. In the Saloon, the nature theme, though less connected to the function of the room, was still evident, since the Zuni jar appeared in the southwest corner on top of what Larz describes in the 1911 inventory as a “carved walnut Venetian Renaissance table” with a base of “large sea horses couchant” and beneath one of the “Louis XV-style gilt girandoles with curving acanthus branches” (fig. 15).‍[85] Moreover, this area of the room was adjacent to the Winter Garden and continued the arrangement of potted flowers and palms in that room.

figure 15
Fig. 15, Detail of Little and Browne (architecture firm), Saloon looking west in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.

An even more complex field of associations appeared in the Billiard Room, where, in an arguably more imaginative way, Larz linked the Andersons’ cultural identity and history directly to the Native objects. He combined personal photographs and memorabilia, like the swords belonging to him and his relatives, with objects that directly or, in the case of the Japanese lacquerware purchased in Boston, indirectly memorialized his travels and his geographically broad cultural interests. Another type of association may have possibly shaped the way that he organized the room and may explain why he placed the “caricatures of well-known Washington characters” on all four walls. A photograph of the corner of the room (see fig. 5) that shows the Jain house shrine surrounded by a group of “caricatures” suggests one of the central ways that Larz conceptualized the room’s arrangement. Many of the “caricatures,” with their forward-facing, standing subjects on plain backgrounds, have an iconic quality that recalls that of the frontally positioned figures on the nearby Jain shrine.‍[86] Another formal similarity exists in the one-above-the-other placement of the Washington elites on the walls and the figures on the shrine. Pushing the analogy a bit further, we might consider the men on the walls as Larz’s “secular” saints or spiritual leaders. With this interpretation in mind, the other objects in the room like the Japanese lacquer and the Southwest pottery act like relics, albeit secular, aesthetic ones, serving to remind Larz of his travels abroad and his direct experience of cultures other than his own.

figure 16
Fig. 16, Little and Browne (architecture firm), Gallery looking east in 1910, Anderson House, Washington, constructed 1902–5. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Collection of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Image in the public domain; courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.

While the religious metaphor may seem tenuous at first, Larz did arrange the Gallery upstairs so as to create the processional effect of altars or “stations” for worship by hanging Gothic- and Renaissance-style paintings of the Madonna and Child above eclectic arrangements of objects in the interstices between the tapestries on the wall (fig. 16). Larz seems to have been deeply influenced by the aesthetics of religious art and architecture, which had an impact on his version of eclecticism, as seen throughout Anderson House. He was a practicing, High Church Episcopalian who would have believed that material evocations of beauty were associated with holiness.‍[87] He not only sponsored the construction of a memorial chapel at the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, commonly known as Washington National Cathedral, but also was involved in its conception and design, working directly with the cathedral’s architects, Frohmann, Robb, and Little of Washington and Boston.‍[88] In the Billiard Room, Larz brought together art and religion in his expression of eclecticism, not only in the hieratic approach to the installation but also in his selection of objects that had both real and figurative spiritual associations.


Both Larz and Isabel regarded their Native objects as valuable and significant parts of their eclectic collection. In a letter to Stevenson dated March 25, 1909, Larz wrote: “As I write, the Navaho [sic] blankets are hanging on my walls and bring back many a recollection. I value my Indian things as much as anything I have, and take great pleasure in remembering what they stand for.”‍[89] Almost three decades later, on a typewritten page attached to the end of the inventory of 1937, copy B, Isabel remarked: “In case any one [sic] wants quickly to know the most interesting things in [the] house,” and continued with a list of items that began with the Flemish tapestries, the paintings in the English parlor, and the Chinese and Japanese lacquers, and concluded with “American articles,” including “Old American Indian gods and pottery in billard [sic] room” and “valuable Indian blanket collection” in the “Den.”‍[90]

As we have shown, the pottery and weavings from the Southwest that the Andersons collected were not isolated in “Indian corners” or arranged in a single room but were instead displayed within a constellation of objects from a broad range of cultures and periods. To integrate them into their eclectic interiors, the Andersons had to redefine this Native material culture as art and as exotic. To assert their cosmopolitan identity, they also had to bring together the Native objects with other art objects collected during their worldwide travels to create formal similarities while maintaining a sense of cultural diversity. The Andersons’ recontextualizing of the pots and blankets by treating them as art and in a way both formal and aesthetic can be considered an act of settler colonialism since it involves an assertion of their power. But this narrative of power is not the entire story. As we have documented, the Andersons were interested in traveling and expanding their knowledge of the world, and they broadened their definition of art to include objects from places they regarded as exotic and foreign. They therefore allowed for difference, at least in the safety of their homes as best revealed by their eclectic interiors, which depended on diversity rather than synthesis.


[1] “Zuni” is the English word for the tribal group that calls itself A:shiwi. Its origins are in the Spanish name “Zuñi,” first used in the 1580s. In this article, we use the name “Zuni” to refer to the A:shiwi people and region. For a discussion of the origins of the name and the early settlement of this region, see Dwight P. Lanmon and Francis H. Harlow, The Pottery of Zuni Pueblo (Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2008), 15–37. Our understanding of Zuni pottery is heavily indebted to the work of these scholars and the Pueblo Pottery Collective, which recently curated a multi-venue exhibition, Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery, with an accompanying catalogue. We have tried to be sensitive to the language we used to identify people, places, and objects. In particular, for pottery and photographs for which the name of the original creator was not recorded, we have adopted the terminology maker or photographer once known rather than unknown or anonymous. In doing so, we seek to acknowledge that these individuals once had names, and we wish to remind readers that now unknown makers were once known by their families, friends, and communities.

[2] Lanmon and Harlow, Pottery of Zuni Pueblo, 152.

[3] Scholars have noted that, broadly speaking, the meanings of Zuni designs have shifted or been forgotten over time, and that there is an “absence of fixed symbolism” in the decoration of pots. Ruth L. Bunzel, The Pueblo Potter: A Study of Creative Imagination in Primitive Art (New York: Columbia University Press, 1929): 69–70. Lanmon and Harlow, Pottery of Zuni Pueblo, 150, make a similar assessment. This water jar’s forms and patterns align with what Lanmon and Harlow identify as Zuni Polychrome, though this terminology belongs to a non-Native perspective rather than a Zuni ancestral one. Lanmon and Harlow, Pottery of Zuni Pueblo, 143–55, 257–65. For additional interpretations and an indigenous approach, see Pueblo Pottery Collective, Elysia Poon, and Rick Kinsel, Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery, exh. cat. (London: Merrell, 2022).

[4] For information about Johnston and her photographic practice, see Bettina Berch, The Life and Work of Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1864–1952 (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 2000); and Mary Elizabeth Ausherman, The Photographic Legacy of Frances Benjamin Johnston (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009). The Andersons hired Johnston to photograph most of the rooms on the ground and first floors of Anderson House in 1910. By that time, she had gained much experience photographing interiors and had developed her own method for successfully framing and lighting them. She also would have been familiar with the way that the Andersons arranged their Southwest pottery with objects from other cultures, since she had similar installations in her studio, as revealed by photographs of it, including her self-portrait titled The Rebel (1896). Moreover, Johnston had a particular affinity with Native American culture: as her biographer Ausherman explains, “Johnston also was pleased to be able to trace (ostensibly) her father’s lineage back to Pocahontas, the Virginia Indian princess.” Ausherman, Photographic Legacy of Frances Benjamin Johnston, 11. Her interest in Native Americans and their culture carried over into her less biographical photography as well, and she now may be best known for a series of photographs of what was then called the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, some of which feature Native Americans, dating to 1899–1900.

[5] Isabel Anderson, ed., Larz Anderson: Letters and Journals of a Diplomat (New York, London, and Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell, 1940), 606. The course of the Andersons’ lives is documented in Stephen T. Moskey, Larz and Isabel Anderson: Wealth and Celebrity in the Gilded Age (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2016). In brief, Isabel and Larz Anderson came from wealthy, well-connected families. Isabel Weld Perkins was born in Boston in 1876, the only child of George Hamilton Perkins (1835–99) of Contoocook, New Hampshire, a much-decorated Navy officer who had served under Admiral David Farragut during the Civil War, and Anna Minot Weld (1835–1924) of Boston, the daughter of one of the city’s wealthiest nineteenth-century merchants, William Fletcher Weld (1800–81). Larz was born in Paris in 1866 while his parents, Col. Nicholas Longworth Anderson (1838–92) and Elizabeth Coles Kilgour Anderson (1843–1917) of Cincinnati, were on an extended honeymoon in Europe after their marriage in 1865. Larz descended from a large family dynasty that had once owned tens of thousands of acres of land in the Midwest and had played a significant role in US military history and in the patronage of the arts during the nineteenth century. His great-grandfather Nicholas Longworth (1783–1863) had supported the careers of ten artists, including the US sculptor Hiram Powers and the African American painter Robert Seldon Duncanson (1821­–72). Perhaps his great-grandfather inspired his own commissioning of several series of murals for Anderson House. However, he did not inherit much wealth and was destined to work for a living—or to marry well in order to fulfill his social and political ambitions. Between their marriage in 1897 and Larz’s death in 1937, the Andersons belonged to prominent social, artistic, and political circles in Washington and Boston. During those four decades, they lived extravagantly; traveled widely; mingled with their peers in London, Paris, and Rome; and built collections, homes, and gardens. They also pursued their individual hobbies and avocations—Isabel as a writer, editor, and theatrical producer; Larz as a collector, curator, and dilettante architect.

[6] In 1901, when Isabel’s trust fund money started to flow on her twenty-fifth birthday, Larz made plans for a grand house in Washington designed by the Boston-based architectural firm Little and Browne. He worked closely with the architects to design a house that had a prominent presence on Massachusetts Avenue, a few blocks from Dupont Circle, and that would be suitable for the highly visible role that the couple aspired to play in the cultural and political life of the city. Anderson House, as it was known then and now, was planned as a commodious, elegant house that could easily accommodate dinners, musicales, teas, luncheons, diplomatic receptions, and parties for dozens or hundreds and provide large, well-lit rooms for the display of their eclectic collections.

[7] Larz made a $25,000 donation to William H. Taft’s campaign in 1908 with the expectation that Taft, who was related distantly to Larz by marriage, would find Larz a prestigious ambassadorial appointment if he were elected president. Larz had posts such as London, Paris, and Rome in mind. Because of Larz’s own political liabilities stemming from his earlier diplomatic service, the appointment was not made until late in Taft’s administration, in the fall of 1911. Taft nominated him to be US minister to Belgium, then a backwater in the US diplomatic service. Larz served reluctantly there from 1911 to 1912. After Taft’s loss in November 1912, he received a lame-duck appointment as ambassador to Japan, where he submitted his resignation only days after arriving in Tokyo. Ultimately, he was in Japan for barely three months, and served as full ambassador for only one day following his much-delayed Senate confirmation in the last hours of the Taft administration in March 1913. Larz styled himself Ambassador Anderson for the rest of his life. Larz was offered one last chance for national elected office. On June 4, 1916, Arthur E. Randle of the Republican National Committee cabled Larz that he would “receive the nomination for vice president of the United States” if he agreed to put forward his name at the Republican convention in Chicago three days later. Larz turned down the offer. For a detailed account of Larz’s diplomatic experience, see Moskey, Larz and Isabel Anderson, 163–203; and for a detailed account of Larz’s calculus on his political ambitions, see Moskey, Larz and Isabel Anderson, 58.

[8] As stated on the Society of the Cincinnati’s website: “The Society of the Cincinnati is the nation’s oldest patriotic organization, founded in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army who served together in the American Revolution. Its mission is to promote knowledge and appreciation of the achievement of American independence and to foster fellowship among its members. Now a nonprofit educational organization devoted to the principles and ideals of its founders, the modern Society maintains its headquarters, library, and museum at Anderson House in Washington, D.C.” “About the Society,” Society of the Cincinnati, accessed October 9, 2022, https://www.societyofthecincinnati.org.

[9] Shepard Krech III and Barbara A. Hail, eds., Collecting Native America, 1870–1960 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 1999). See Krech’s introduction, 1–24, and his list of previous scholarship, 20n1.

[10] The Andersons and their collection have been the subject of scholarly studies, but their Native American collection has not been explored in depth until now. Kathleen Betts, “Ambassador Larz Anderson: The Patriotic Collector,” The 40th Annual Washington Antiques Show Catalogue (Washington, DC: Washington Antiques Show, 1995); Denise M. Budd, “Charles Mather Ffoulke and Larz Anderson: Dealing and Collecting Tapestries in the Gilded Age” in Collecting Early Modern Art (1400–1800) in the U.S. South, ed. Lisandra Estevez (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021), 1–22; Peter Del Tredici, “From Temple to Terrace: The Remarkable Journey of the Oldest Bonsai in America,” Arnoldia 64, nos. 2–3 (2006): 2–30; James M. Goode and Bruce M. White, “Anderson House,” Capital Houses: Historic Residences of Washington, D.C. and Its Environs (New York: Acanthus Press, 2015); Richard G. Kenworthy, “Bringing the World to Brookline: The Gardens of Larz and Isabel Anderson,” Journal of Garden History 11, no. 4 (1991): 224–41; Emily Schulz, “In Stone and Steel: The Construction of Anderson House,” Cincinnati Fourteen 41, no. 2 (2005): 18–31; Victoria Weston, ed., Eaglemania: Collecting Japanese Art in Gilded Age America, exh. cat. (Chestnut Hill, MA: McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, 2019); and Stephanie Wiles, “The American Muralist H. Siddons Mowbray and His Drawings for the Larz Anderson House,” Master Drawings 31, no. 10 (1993): 21–34.

[11] For a history of “Pueblo people” and their lands, see Lucy Fowler Williams, “In the Shadows of Paradise: Albert C. Barnes and the Spirit of Santa Fe,” in Water Wind Breath: Southwest Native Art in the Barnes Foundation, ed. Lucy Fowler Williams, exh. cat. (Philadelphia: Barnes Foundation, 2022), 2–10.

[12] A few relevant studies that we consulted on tourism and collecting in the Southwest are Leah Dilworth, Imagining Indians in the Southwest: Persistent Visions of a Primitive Past (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996); Curtis M. Hinsley, “Collecting Cultures and Cultures of Collecting: The Lure of the American Southwest, 1880–1915,” Museum Anthropology 16, no. 1 (February 1992): 12–20, https://doi.org/10.1525/mua.1992.16.1.12 (login required); Marguerite S. Shaffer, “Playing American: The Southwestern Scrapbooks of Mildred E. Baker,” in The Culture of Tourism, the Tourism of Culture: Selling the Past to the Present in the American Southwest, ed. Hal K. Rothman (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003), 72–100; and Elizabeth Hutchinson, The Indian Craze: Primitivism, Modernism, and Transculturation in American Art, 1890–1915 (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2009).

[13] For a discussion of “cultural imperialism” and case-study examples of its process and impact on American Indian cultures in the twentieth century, see Carter Jones Meyer and Diana Royer, eds., Selling the Indian: Commercializing and Appropriating American Indian Cultures (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001).

[14] A Zuni heart-line deer jar appears in the Johnston photographs of the Winter Garden, the Billiard Room, and the Saloon. While it may be the same piece of pottery that had been moved around for the purposes of photography, it also is possible that the Andersons owned two, or even three, pots with similar designs. The 1911 inventory does not give enough detailed information about the pottery for us to be able to identify each piece. The list of “art objects” in the Saloon includes “1 Mexican Indian terra-cotta decorated jardiniere [accent missing in original], quaint animals and designs. 16” [40.64 cm] diameter. Perfect”; and in Larz’s hand, “Zuni pueblo earthen bowl.” This entry seems to identify the Zuni heart-line deer jar used as a jardinière in the Johnston photograph of the Saloon. However, the inventory of the Winter Garden does not include a jardinière, and the list of “art objects” in the Billiard Room mentions “13 New [in Larz’s hand] Mexican decorated pottery water jars different shapes and sizes, one plain. Perfect.” We believe that the pot used as a jardinière in the Winter Garden was the one sold at Sotheby’s in 1981 and was listed in the catalogue as being 14 in. (35.6 cm) in diameter; so we, therefore, think that the Andersons’ collection included at least two Zuni heart-line deer jars of different sizes. Larz Anderson, “An Inventory of Articles in Anderson House, Washington City” (with annotations), 1911, pp. 39, 25, MSS L1938D1 M, Anderson Collection, Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC; and Fine American Indian Art, auction cat. (New York: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981), n.p., lot 105.

[15] For details about the Andersons’ finances and Isabel’s involvement in them, see Moskey, Larz and Isabel Anderson, 233–34.

[16] Charles Francis Adams Jr., foreword to Isabel Anderson, Larz Anderson, 5.

[17] Isabel L. Taube, “William Merritt Chase’s Cosmopolitan Eclecticism,” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 15, no. 3 (Autumn 2016), https://doi.org/10.29411/ncaw.2016.15.3.6.

[18] The word “eclectic” derives from the Greek verb eklegein (to select). Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (1989), s.v. “eclectic.” The word did not take on the connotation of exclusivity until the late nineteenth century. Oxford English Dictionary Online, s.v. “eclectic,” last updated March 2023, https://www.oed.com/ [login required].

[19] For an overview of eclecticism, see Christine Bolus-Reichert, The Age of Eclecticism: Literature and Culture in Britain, 1815–1885 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2009).

[20] For examples of discussions of eclecticism in popular decorating magazines and trade publications, see Taube, “William Merritt Chase’s Cosmopolitan Eclecticism.”

[21] Larz Anderson, untitled essay, April 23, [1887], “Daily Themes [in English 12], Harvard University, 1885–1886–1887,” HUC 8885.324, Larz Anderson English Themes, Harvard University Archives, Cambridge, MA.

[22] As Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman explain, “Architecture and decoration, having wandered since 1800 in a labyrinth of dubious eclecticism, can be set right by a close study of the best models.” Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr., The Decoration of Houses (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1897), 2.

[23] Lewis G. Tewksbury, “A Typical American Interior,” The Decorator and Furnisher 20, no. 4 (July 1892): 140–43. For other statements about eclecticism and its national appeal, see Taube, “William Merritt Chase’s Cosmopolitan Eclecticism.”

[24] “The beautiful home of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Clifford Barney, 1626 Rhode Island avenue [not capitalized in original], presented an exceedingly pretty scene yesterday afternoon. . . . The drawing, reception, and ball-rooms of the house, which, though, not so spacious as many others, is one of the most artistic dwellings in Washington.” “Miss Barney’s Debut,” The Washington Post, December 7, 1895, 7.

[25] For further discussion of interior decoration as an expression of the self, see Isabel Louise Taube, “Rooms of Memory: The Artful Interior in American Painting, 1880 to 1920” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2004), 45–50.

[26] For an overview of the French influence on Washington domestic architecture and interiors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see Cynthia R. Field, Isabelle Gournay, and Thomas P. Somma, eds., Paris on the Potomac: The French Influence on the Architecture and Art of Washington, D.C. (Washington, DC: U.S. Capitol Historical Society/Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007). See especially Liana Paredes, “Private Homes, Public Lives: Francophilia among Government Officers and the Washington Elite,” in Paris on the Potomac, 77–116, for a good overview of the preference for French-inspired interiors in the homes of Washington elites.

[27] Kristin L. Hoganson, Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of Carolina Press, 2007), 55. In the first chapter of her book, Hoganson offers a comprehensive discussion of cosmopolitanism and its significance in the middle-class interior decorated by women during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She mentions the many contradictions of cosmopolitanism as well as how it was both promoted and criticized in decorating manuals and magazines.

[28] For additional information about the “Indian corner” and an extended analysis of its function and significance, see Elizabeth Hutchinson, “Unpacking the Indian Corner,” chap. 1 in Indian Craze, 11–50.

[29] Hutchinson, Indian Craze, 50. For the mail-order “Indian corner,” see Jonathan Batkin, “Tourism Is Overrated: Pueblo Pottery and the Early Curio Trade, 1880–1910,” in Unpacking Culture: Art and Commodity in Colonial and Postcolonial Worlds, ed. Ruth B. Phillips and Christopher B. Stein (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 295.

[30] In 1905, Larz acquired from the Washington dealer V. G. Fischer a work titled Lady Cockburn and Her Children, which had been offered to him as a study by Sir Joshua Reynolds for a painting with the title Lady Cockburn and Her Three Eldest Sons, 1773–75, now in the collection of the National Gallery, London. Larz’s purchase of the painting was likely predicated by the presence of a parrot in the scene. Isabel was fond of parrots and kept several as household pets that traveled with her. The Fischer invoice for $8,000 certified that the painting was from the “Collection of Tollemache & Walker” [sic] though the painting was later determined to be an undated copy “from the school of Sir Joshua Reynolds.” Anderson House docent manual [loose-leaf pages in three-ring binder], August 1999, section J, 1, copy in the files of Stephen T. Moskey. For the Fischer invoice dated November 16, 1905, and a curatorial note on the purchase of this painting, see “Oil Painting, Lady Cockburn and Children by Reynolds,” MSS L1938D11 [box 1], file AP [15], Anderson Collection, Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.

[31] Larz Anderson, “An Inventory of Articles in Anderson House,” 8.

[32] Shortly before her death in 1948, Isabel donated a large collection of Native American pots and artifacts to what was then known as The Children’s Museum of Jamaica Plain (now the Boston Children’s Museum), to be used in educational programs for children. Letter from Elsie M. Boyle [Director, The Children’s Museum] to Mrs. Larz Anderson, April 29, 1948, box 12, The Larz and Isabel Anderson Collection (1895–1948), Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, MA.

[33] Teresa J. Wilkins, Patterns of Exchange: Navajo Weavers and Traders (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008).

[34] Larz Anderson, Some Scraps [Journals, 1888–1936], vol. 6, Yachting on Land & on Sea. Canada—New Orleans—Southwest. South of England—London—North Cape [1904], p. 21, MSS L2004G19.5, Anderson Collection, Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. “W.” is Walter Denis DeNègre (or: Denegre; 1858–1934), a New Orleans lawyer, and “K.” is Catherine “Katie” Anderson Peckham (1869–1925), a first cousin of Larz Anderson.

[35] Larz’s discussion of the Native objects follows his description of a tour of “the frescoes on the walls [of the Fred Harvey Hotel] depicting some of the sand pictures of the Navaho [sic], ceremonial sand paintings of the Medicine Men which are spread as part of religious functions and done with the purpose and significance of prayer.” Larz Anderson, Some Scraps [Journals, 1888–1936], vol. 28, A Joy Ride. Into the Southwest Again—Motor Car Caravan Camping Trips—Into the Mesa Verde and Zion Canyon Country—Los Angeles—Around Santa Fe to Taos Pueblo [1927], pp. 246–47, MSS L2004G19.26.1, Anderson Collection, Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Larz wrote this entry in Gallup, New Mexico.

[36] For information about the Fred Harvey Company and its impact on tourism in the Southwest, see Marta Weigle and Barbara A. Babcock, eds., The Great Southwest of the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railway (Phoenix: Heard Museum, 1996).

[37] A photograph album documenting the Andersons’ cross-country trip in 1904 is in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA: I.A. and L.A. Private Car ‘LUCIANA,’ Canada, New Orleans, Painted Desert, Grand Canyon, Pueblos, 2.2002.3655. In addition, there are thirty-one unbound silver gelatin prints taken during the trip and labeled “Larz Anderson photographs of the American Southwest,” photo Lot 87-2R, at the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Suitland, MD.

[38] Larz Anderson, Yachting on Land & on Sea, 23–27.

[39] Larz Anderson, Yachting on Land & on Sea, 21.

[40] The parentheses after “this piece of pottery” enclosed a blank space in Larz Anderson, “An Inventory of Articles in Anderson House,” 25.

[41] Larz Anderson, Yachting on Land & on Sea, 28–29.

[42] For an in-depth discussion of “playing Indian” and its significance at different moments in US history, see Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998).

[43] For biographical information on Stevenson and a discussion of her contribution to anthropology, see Eliza McFeely, Zuni and the American Imagination (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001), 25–74; and Darlis A. Miller, Matilda Coxe Stevenson: Pioneering Anthropologist (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007).

[44] As the historian Eliza McFeely explains, “In any number of other instances, Stevenson bullied her way into ceremonial chambers where she was not welcome; by her own account, she rode roughshod over Zuni guides to make them take her to shrines they wished to keep secret from her. She reported, without regret or apology, many occasions when Zunis who had supplied her with sacred artifacts or with privileged information expressed their fears of severe punishment, even death, should their contributions become known among other members of the tribe. In one way or another, Stevenson found her way into a remarkable number of secret ceremonies or located informants who were willing to describe them for her.” McFeely, Zuni and the American Imagination, 57–58.

[45] Larz Anderson, Yachting on Land & on Sea, 25.

[46] Isabel Anderson, Odd Corners (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1917), 145.

[47] Larz and Isabel’s descriptions of their Southwestern travels are filled with discovery language. It is possible to interpret their first tourist visit to Zuni and Acoma as what Dilworth describes as “a kind of reenactment of the Colombian discovery narrative” in which they unexpectedly found themselves in Zuni and, after “a satisfying exchange” and seeing the sights, “returned to civilization with souvenir evidence of that encounter and tales of the region’s wonders.” Dilworth, Imagining Indians in the Southwest, 79.

[48] Miller, Matilda Coxe Stevenson, 126.

[49] A dozen or so letters between the Andersons and Stevenson penned between 1908 and 1911 have survived in collections at the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) and Anderson House, but we believe there must have been a continuous and lively correspondence between them from 1904 until Stevenson’s death in 1915. MS 4689, Matilda Coxe Stevenson Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Suitland, MD. Anderson correspondence is housed in box 1, folder 8.

[50] We have not found any invoices or accounts of exactly what they acquired.

[51] The Andersons seem to have used scholars as well as friends as agents and scouts. For example, Maud Howe Elliott (1854–1948), daughter of the celebrated US author and poet Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910), seems to have served as a scout for the Andersons. She was a close family friend who had chaperoned Isabel on her grand tour of Europe and introduced the couple in Rome in 1896. In her undated correspondence with Larz, likely written before Anderson House was complete and when she was living with her husband, the US artist John Elliott (1858/59–1925), in Rome, she proposed paintings, sculptures, and architectural fragments in Italian collections for purchase, most of which had been seen and recommended by her friend, the archaeologist and classicist Richard Norton (1872–1918), son of the Harvard art historian Charles Eliot Norton. See the letters from Maud Howe Elliott to Larz Anderson dating to ca. 1898–90, MSS L1938D11 [box 2], file NN27, Maud Howe Elliott Correspondence, Anderson Collection, Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.

[52] For biographical information, see Van Wyck Brooks, “Fenollosa and His Circle,” in Fenollosa and His Circle with Other Essays in Biography (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1962), 1–68; Lawrence W. Chisolm, Fenollosa: The Far East and American Culture (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1963); and Betty Lou William, “Japanese Aesthetic Influences on Early 20th–Century Art Education: Arthur Wesley Dow and Ernest Fenollosa,” Visual Arts Research 39, no. 2 (Winter 2013): 104–15. For a sense of what Fenollosa was thinking in 1892, around the time Larz met him in Japan (1889–90), see Ernest Francisco Fenollosa, “The Significance of Oriental Art,” The Knight Errant 1, no. 3 (October 1892): 65–70, https://www.jstor.org/stable/25515890. Of particular interest are Fenollosa’s assertions that Asian art should stand on its own merits as art, rather than as something different in comparison to Western art.

[53] Larz Anderson, A Joy Ride. Into the Southwest Again, 37–82.

[54] Miller, Matilda Coxe Stevenson, 131.

[55] Isabel Anderson, Odd Corners, 149. Isabel’s account notably differs from that of the ethnographer Robert Stewart Culin (1858–1929), who claimed that the Zuni were eager to sell during his collecting trips in 1903, 1904, and 1907 when he was serving as curator of the Brooklyn Museum’s then recently established Department of Ethnology. For a discussion of Culin’s opportunistic collecting, see Chip Colwell, Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 13–19.

[56] Isabel Anderson, Odd Corners, 149.

[57] In the letter, the “Indian chief” wrote that “My heart is happy while I thank you for the beautiful and valuable shells, and my heart will continue to be happy whenever I look upon the shells and when I see my friend the Great American through my heart. You have not only sent us a few but many, to make us thank you with our hearts. Our hearts will speak to your heart and I know that you will understand. Others would not understand but you have been with us in the kiwitsi [estufa], you have seen us dance, you have heard my people sing prayers to our gods. . . .” The letter from the “Indian chief” is transcribed in Isabel Anderson, Odd Corners, 150–51. A signed original carbon copy of the letter is in the National Anthropological Archives. “Letter from an Indian 1909,” MS 4689, box 2, file 20, Matilda Coxe Stevenson Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Suitland, MD.

[58] Correspondence between the Andersons and Stevenson also documents Larz’s attempt to treat what he identified as “the little Zuni Gods” respectfully (at least in his terms). In a letter from March 25, 1909, he recounted to Stevenson that “the little Zuni Gods have been having a sun bath lately, for I found that they were beginning to gather dust in their show case and so have taken them out o’doors for an airing – and I think they are the better off for it.” We do not know the whereabouts of these “Zuni Gods” or exactly how they were acquired, though one letter from Larz to Stevenson suggests that Stevenson gave at least one of them to the Andersons as a housewarming gift after they moved into Anderson House. Larz Anderson to Matilda Coxe Stevenson, March 25, 1909, MS 4689, box 1, file 8, Correspondence A–L, Matilda Coxe Stevenson Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Suitland, MD.

[59] Larz Anderson, Some Scraps [Journals, 1888–1936], vol. 18, Private Car “Federal.” Glacier Park—The Pacific—Panama Exposition—Sequoia Giant National Park in the High Sierras—Catalina Island—San Diego Exposition—Grand Canyon and Pueblo of Acoma Again [1915], pp. 40–41, MSS L2004G19.17, Anderson Collection, Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.

[60] For Stevenson’s comments about the negative effects of “civilized man” on the Zuni, see Miller, Matilda Coxe Stevenson, 141–42. The botanist, collector of Native American pottery, and writer Charles Francis Saunders comments: “Among the native American arts which are rapidly passing away, as more and more the Indian comes under the influence of the white man’s schooling, is pottery making.” Charles Francis Saunders, “Decorative Indian Jars,” House and Garden 24, no. 4 (October 1908): 117–18.

[61] The photograph was probably taken by either Larz Anderson or his guide Robert H. Stewart at the Santo Domingo (now Kewa) Pueblo in 1927. It was later pasted into Larz Anderson, Some Scraps [Journals, 1888–1936], vol. 28, A Joy Ride. Into the Southwest Again—Motor Car Caravan Camping Trips—Into the Mesa Verde and Zion Canyon Country—Los Angeles—Around Santa Fe to Taos Pueblo [1927], MSS L2004G19.26.1, Anderson Collection, The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Stewart traveled with the Andersons on many trips, and Larz called him his “guide.” See Isabel Anderson, Larz Anderson, 183n6.

[62] As Larz explained, “And here we were met by a ‘Harveycar’, one of the fleet of the newly established ‘Indian detour’ system for going in to the astonishing Indian lands that have been uncovered in the past few years, motor land cruises they call them.” In 1925 the Fred Harvey Company sought to stimulate tourism in the Southwest, and they launched packaged tours referred to as “Indian detours” during which tourists traveling by rail were brought by car into pueblos where they could see sites and living pueblos as well as shop for handicrafts. Larz Anderson, A Joy Ride. Into the Southwest Again, 252.

[63] For an analysis of the Harveycar Indian Detours, see Marta Weigle, “‘Insisted on Authenticity’: Harveycar Indian Detours, 1925–1931,” in The Great Southwest of the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railway, 47–59.

[64] Hutchinson, Indian Craze, 223.

[65] Williams, Water Wind Breath.

[66] Though Isabel did give a collection of Native American artifacts and pots to The Children’s Museum of Jamaica Plain (now the Boston Children’s Museum), the objects were not purchased with this donation in mind.

[67] For a discussion of Phoebe Hearst’s collection, see Ira Jacknis, “Patrons, Potters, and Painters: Phoebe Hearst’s Collections from the American Southwest,” in Krech and Hail, Collecting Native America, 139–71. For other examples of more encyclopedic collections, see Krech and Hail, Collecting Native America.

[68] While their approach to acquiring Native objects differed, the Andersons did install their collection in a manner similar to the way Hearst arranged her personal collection at her home in Pleasanton, California, albeit on a smaller scale. Hearst assembled baskets, pottery, and blankets on the rafters and balcony ledge in a room filled with European and US decorative objects, furnishings, and paintings.

[69] Larz wrote in his travel diary: “We saw the Zuni in time – for within the year they are going to build a great dam and school-house near by them – poor people – who would so much prefer to be left alone – and the influx of degrading workingmen will inevitably destroy the simple people who live so complex a life. I have been so impressed with the error of the attempt to educate the Indian – making him only impudent and good-for-nothing – where it doesn’t fail entirely – for some of the girls that danced in that pagan dance had lately come from Carlisle [Indian Industrial School] – and in the whole community we visited there were but two or three that could or cared to speak English – and only the poor ones allow their children to go to school – and then only because they are dressed (and O, so common they look beside the native dressed children!) and fed. Our mistaken Government is knocking all the good out of them and provides nothing to take its place.” Larz Anderson, Yachting on Land & on Sea, 27. The “great dam” is a reference to the construction of what became known as the Black Rock Dam, built by the US government to deal with the effect on the Zuni people of a severe drought that had begun in the 1890s and extended to 1904. Begun in 1903, with an expected completion date of 1905, the project encountered many geologic and engineering challenges, including the accumulation of silt behind the new dam that prevented achievement of significant gains in water for the Zunis until 1926. But even then, it was a diminished outcome since the problem of silt was never completely resolved. Thomas R. Wessel, “Phantom Experiment Station: Government Agriculture on the Zuni Reservation,” Agricultural History 61, no. 4 (Autumn 1987): 1–12.

[70] Dwight Lanmon, email message to Stephen T. Moskey, September 13, 2022. This assessment supports our contention elsewhere in this article that the Andersons’ Zuni pottery acquisition almost certainly came from materials originally collected by Stevenson at Zuni for the Bureau of American Ethnography (BAE) collections at the Smithsonian Institution. She would not have acquired pieces made for the tourist trade for the BAE’s collections. For “souvenir evidence,” see Dilworth, Imagining Indians in the Southwest, 79.

[71] In a letter to Larz, Maude Howe Elliott writes about having seen “a perfect little madonna bas relief” by the Italian Renaissance sculptor Mino da Fiesole (1429–84), but then remarks that “I do not, however, believe you are going in quite for these things. If I understand what you want just at this moment of your collecting, it is rather filling decorative pieces. These [several objects she had seen] are really most exquisite and museum pieces but I rather fancy, not for you.” Undated letter from Maud Howe Elliott to Larz Anderson, ca. 1898–90, MSS L1938D11 [box 2], file NN27, Maud Howe Elliott Correspondence, Anderson Collection, Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC. Unlike major collectors active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States, such as Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919), J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), and the Andersons’ close friend Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924), Isabel and Larz did not build their collection around celebrated European old-master paintings, which were not in their budget. Instead, like his great-grandfather Nicholas Longworth, who hired Robert Seldon Duncanson to paint landscape scenes in the entryway to his house in Cincinnati (now the Taft Museum of Art), and his father Nicholas Longworth Anderson, who had John LaFarge (1835–1910) design two stained glass windows for his dining room, Larz commissioned works directly from artists. These works included family portraits and numerous paintings of places the Andersons lived, such as the Palais d’Assche in Brussels and the American Embassy in Tokyo; caricatures of Washington area friends; and murals representing historical and personally significant scenes that appeared in prominent locations throughout Anderson House. Notably, he hired the US painter H. Siddons Mowbray (1858–1928), who had then recently completed a series of wall decorations for Morgan in New York, to paint murals in the Choir Stall Room, the Cincinnati (or Key) Room, and the Winter Garden.

[72] For a discussion of the preference for handicrafts made by “Indians of the West,” see Shepard Krech III, “Rudolf F. Haffenreffer and the King Philip Museum,” in Collecting Native America, 112.

[73] Larz Anderson, A Joy Ride. Into the Southwest Again, 37–39.

[74] Dilworth, Imagining Indians in the Southwest, 6, 15–16. Dilworth offers much evidence to prove that “Pueblo Indians” were perceived as “paragons of artisanal industry.” See her section on “The Indian Artisan,” 141–51.

[75] Larz Anderson, “An Inventory of Articles in Anderson House,” 25.

[76] Saunders, “Decorative Indian Jars,” 117.

[77] Hutchinson, Indian Craze, 34.

[78] Larz Anderson or his guide Robert H. Stewart took a similar photograph of the domestic structures at Zuni with the chimneys during the Andersons’ 1904 trip. It is now in the collection of the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Suitland, MD [Lot 87-2R, image 06].

[79] Matilda Coxe Stevenson, “The Zuñi Indians: Their Mythology, Esoteric Fraternities and Ceremonies” in Twenty-Third Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1904), 373.

[80] Stevenson, “The Zuñi Indians,” 377.

[81] Larz Anderson, A Joy Ride. Into the Southwest Again, 247.

[82] Larz Anderson, Yachting on Land & on Sea, 23–26; and Isabel Anderson, Odd Corners, 140–49.

[83] Dilworth, Imagining Indians in the Southwest, 5.

[84] Dilworth, Imagining Indians in the Southwest, 5–6. Dilworth relates the rhetoric about exoticism and the other in the tourist literature and ethnography of the Southwest to “the discourse of orientalism” and mentions that “Barbara Babcock has written that ‘the Southwest is America’s Orient.’” Barbara Babcock, “‘A New Mexican Rebecca’: Imaging Pueblo Women,” Journal of the Southwest 32, no. 4 (Winter 1990): 406.

[85] Larz Anderson, “An Inventory of Articles in Anderson House,” 34, 31.

[86] The Jain household shrine is described as follows in the 1911 inventory: “1 Antique East Indian carved wood cabinet with figure of Vishnu seated on top among grotesque animals, small figures of idols on either side; column pilasters in tiers of balustrades with figures of idols mounted on different sections. Door sections in deep block work with rosette studs. Worn down to natural wood, but showing throughout suggestions of red 6 high, 58 wide. Perfect.” Below this description, Larz left a comment that reveals his understanding of the shrine: “A Jain (combination of Hindoo Buddhists, whose chief seat is at Mt. Abu, near Bombay) temple shrine, showing in its carving the Buddha with Hindoo attributes, served by Elephants, and entertained by nautch [a popular court dance] dancers. Four hundred years old and sold because being replaced by new shrines—acquired from Watson, Bombay, 1899. With other specimen at ‘Weld’ probably unique in America.” Larz Anderson, “An Inventory of Articles in Anderson House,” 25. The Andersons visited Mount Abu during their wedding trip to India in 1899. See Larz Anderson, Some Scraps [Journals, 1888–1936], vol. 4, Our Wedding Journey and Our Trip to India in 1897–98–99, p. 24, MSS L2004G19.3, Anderson Collection, Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC; and Isabel Anderson, Odd Corners, 232–33. Larz incorrectly identified the devotional figures and scene on the Jain household shrine. See the discussion of the shrine in Sightlines: Arrangement of Objects in the Billiard Room in the Interactive Feature.

[87] Peter W. Williams, Religion, Art, and Money: Episcopalians and American Culture from the Civil War to the Great Depression (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016), 23.

[88] Scrapbook related to the construction of the Washington National Cathedral, box 8, The Larz and Isabel Anderson Collection (1895–1948), Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, MA.

[89] Larz Anderson to Matilda Coxe Stevenson, March 25, 1909 (see note 59).

[90] The Johnston photographs do not show the so-called Old American Indian gods on display in the Billiard Room. Isabel Anderson, typewritten list with handwritten annotations in pencil, undated [ca. 1938], tipped into Leslie A. Hyam (appraiser), American Art Association, Anderson Galleries, “Inventory and Appraisal of the Art, Literary and Other Property Contained in the Residence[,] Garage, Stables and Garden of 2118 Massachusetts Avenue[,] Washington, D.C.: Belonging to the Estate of the Honorable Larz Anderson,” 1937, MSS L1938D3.1, Anderson Collection, Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC.