"An American Salon in Rome," Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, 1881

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"An American Salon in Rome," Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, 1881


Brewster, Anne Hampton, 1818-1892
Lippincott's Magazine
Social Events--Salons and Receptions
Gender Norms


The articles gives a definition and historical genealogy of salons with a specific focus on French salons. A salon is described as a social gathering "brought together by some leading maîtresse de maison, for the purpose of promoting an agreeable exchange of thoughts and sentiments." Anne Brewster appears as one of these hostesses. Her salon in Via Quattro Fontane offers "a friendly welcome, a refreshing cup of tea, and good society."
The article seeks to emphasize her feminine qualities of charity and kindness. It makes a case for the feminine sphere and "house hold sceptre." The salon is defined and valued as an "extension" of this space.
It is written by C.R. Corson.


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Lippincott's Monthly Magazine


J. B. Lippincott Co.





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We can scarcely, on this side of the Atlantic, form a clear idea of what the Europeans mean by a salon. We have not yet reached that repose which centuries of culture have brought toour cousins abrad. Our intellectual recreations are still confined to literary clubs, and we have not yet acquired the art of sporting with learning.
A salon invariably implies intelligent recreation. It is an unpretending gathering of clever men and women, brought together by some leading maîtresse de maison, for the purpose of promoting an agreeable exchange of thoughts and sentiments. This sort of intellectual conviviality is mostly found in France, French being of all languages the best adapted for conversation, and the French people the most emotional of nations. But wherever a certain number of cultivated people can be brought together the same object may be attained. We Americans have, however, scarcely a conception of this kind of entertainment.
The origin of the salon par excellence may be traced to the far-famed Hotel de Rambouillet, which flourished in the middle of the seventeenth century.
Since those Rambouillet gatherings, society in France presents a long list of salons of the first order, and it is a study of no small interest to examine into their
workings and see how they were in fact the platforms whereon literature, the fine arts, statesmanship even, made their claims best known and found in the superior women of the time their best exponents. Woman has from time immemorial been the energizing influence that led the world onward. Whether as Judith or Joan of Arc, a Sophie Gay or a Récamier,--heroines stepping out of their
circumscribed spheres, or maîtresses de maison,--they have ever made good the poet’s assertion that it is through the ewigweibliche that humanity advances. The question is where this ewigweibliche is most effectual: on the Woman’s Rights platform, or in the domestic and social circle? A superior woman is not necessarily a highly-educated woman, or one of great intellectual powers.
The mistake in our present systems of education, especially on this side of the Atlantic, is the importance attached to mere information. Information is not cultivation, and stufling the brain with all and everything knowable is not imparting life to it. In most cases it results in nothing more than mere conceit of knowledge, instead of sound learning: we appear to know.
Miss Anne Hampton Brewster, the author of those spirited and well-digested articles which we so heartily welcome in the Evening Telegraph and the Parisian, is one of those full-souled women whose very presence makes sunshine in a circle. Petite and rondelette, with one of those physiognomies that have no age,--vitality of mind being to them a veritable fontaine de jouvence,--she gives at once the impression of a thoroughly amiable person. She is not a grande dame, to stand in awe of, nor is she what is generally meant by a bel esprit, which in many instances might be translated cruel by dint of wit, for she holds her wit under lock and key, as it were, and in the keeping of her heart; least of all is she an esprit fort, for she is a true member of the Roman Catholic Church: her forte lies in a discriminative charity and a genuine and sympathetic kindness toward all men.
Miss Brewster occupies a portion of the upper stories of the Palazzo Maldura, Via Quattro Fontane. Her apartments form a suite of rooms, cosey and home like, which she throws open every Wednesday evening to her friends for social intercourse.  Littérateurs of all nationalities, painters, sculptors, distinguished foreigners, professional men and amateurs, meet there on that evening in the most informal manner. The wraps are left in charge of the maid in attendance in the hall, and one enters the drawing room sans gene and with a sort of home feeling, so familiar and unpretending are all the appointments. One is always sure there of three good things,—a friendly welcome, a refreshing cup of tea, and good society. People who in their every-day walk constantly meet objects which for sublimity of conception and excellence of execution are unrivalled on earth receive through their senses a training which erudition alone cannot give. Those grand lines of the Coliseum, of the arches of Titus and Constantine; those noble fountains and columns; those superb churches; all those inimitable forms left to us by ages the transcendental culture of which has provided the world with models for evermore, must fashion the soul of man toward such an appreciation of the beautiful and form his taste toward such excellence as must banish from his nature--provided it be an impressionable nature--all tendency to feebleness or triviality. It is from such minds that we get that higher entertainment we come to seek,--good talk; talk that flows strong naturally and as from a fountain. We will suppose one of Miss Brewster’s Wednesday soirées, when all is in tune, weather and temperaments, and no hitch anywhere. The guests have sipped the inspirational cup of tea which
is always handed round in the early part of the evening, and are dispersing by twos and threes in the drawing-room.
Not till woman recognizes wherein her real power lies, and reassumes the house hold sceptre, may we look forward to a better state of things and the return of those virtues which made the family hearth the centre of everything. The salon is but an extension of this centre.


Philadelphia, PA, US

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“"An American Salon in Rome," Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, 1881,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed May 28, 2024, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/793.

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