July 01, 2017

Treasures a la Russe

In the late 1930s, US Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph E. Davies and his extremely wealthy wife, General Foods owner Marjorie Merriweather Post, purchased hundreds of Russian antiquities at rock-bottom prices. Many of these are now on view at her former mansion, Hillwood Museum, in Washington, DC, making it world-famous for its collection of icons, Fabergé eggs, and other imperial art.

Interestingly, just a few blocks away from Hillwood there is another treasure-trove of pre-revolutionary Russian delights. It is the residence of Peter MacDonald, a retired diplomat and self-professed Russophile.

MacDonald and his wife Allen live in a wooden, dacha-like 1911 Sears Catalog house. Paintings and hundreds of books on Russia line the walls or are stacked on the floor. Ordinarily, in an old-fashioned Russian home, a single samovar would be sufficient to make things cozy, but MacDonald has dozens. Five of them line the top of the den bookshelf – short ones that can squeeze under the ceiling. Others inhabit window seats and side tables. They dwell en masse in the kitchen, as well.

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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