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The Kenmore Mantelpiece

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Kenmore's Dining Room Mantelpiece

Over a mantel in the dining room of Kenmore, the estate of George Washington's sister Betty and Fielding Lewis, is a chimney piece known as "The Aesop's Fable" mantelpiece or chimneypiece. A booklet, postcard, photos, and brochures, gifts of Margaret Carlson Lytton, Nov., '92 and April, '97, present the delightful plaster work, done by a stucco worker whose identity is one of the great questions of American design history. Further, professional photographer Dan Fitzpatrick has taken some high-density photographs to help in investigating the visual history of the overmantel's motifs. Click on any picture below to see it in larger format.

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The Fox and the Crow

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In Color from the Side

Legend says that it was George Washington himself who ordered the subject of Aesop's fables for the chimney piece and even that it was he who insisted on the inclusion of FC as a reminder to his young nieces and nephews to beware of flattery. In fact, FC is the clearest fable at the center of the piece.