Nook version of vintage magazine article originally published in 1900. Contains 20 pages, with 7 illustrations.
Lots of great info and illustrations seldom seen in the last 100 years.
Read excerpt -
Of all these sumptuous apartments, the dining-room perhaps gives most powerfully the impression of magnificence, strikes the spectator as the most successful work of art. But, except the drawing-room, which is from another hand than the architect's, and in the gorgeousness of which there is perhaps a touch of banality, each of them strikes him as primarily a work of art, and it is this fact which saves any of them from making the effect of mere profusion. Like the scale, the ma¬terial is felt to be merely the due execution of the design. Even M. Bourget's phrase, "above all, money, " it would be unjust to apply to this work, much more the phrase of "a luxury a little brutal, " which he applies to some of the manifestations of our plutocracy. One need not leave Newport to find justification of both. There are there apartments and houses which may be said to exhale money, as Cardinal Newman, in a burst of Saxon, said of the common room of Oriel, in his time, that it "stank of logic." Where the design, which has been so lavishly carried out, is in itself interesting and evidently worthy of so elaborate an execution, the element of vulgarity which belongs to mere profusion vanishes, and the sense of ostentation is replaced by the sense of art. In a work thus simply adequately done, there is not anything "intemperate and unbridled." The owner has not been "spending too much in order to have the sensation of having spent enough" he has merely been supplying his artist with the means of carrying out the artist's ideas.
Naturally, a palace built among palaces for an owner who was reputed to be "the richest man in America" would be looked to for an example of profusion and ostentation. How repugnant it would have been to the modesty and simplicity of Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt's character to set such an example, strikingly appears from one of the rooms in "The Breakers," which is not in the least one of the show-rooms. It is a small room on the ground floor, perhaps the smallest on the floor, very plainly fitted and furnished, a mere "cabinet de travail," which was known as "Mr. Vanderbilt's office," where the master of the house closeted himself with the care's of business and of charity which engrossed his blameless, diligent and useful life. Already, new as they both are, the two most noteworthy palaces of the Cliffs, "The Breakers" and "Ochre Court," are bereaved of their builders, and the universal moral of mortality is "writ large" when death involves a divorce from great possessions.