Azalea Inscription

Azalea Inscription

Fragment of Original 1935 Azalea Inscription, Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.OB.Misc.079.

James N. Carder (February 2017)

In 2016, the Dumbarton Oaks swimming pool, bathhouse loggia, and the surrounding pavements and walls were completely renovated. As part of this project, the 1935 “Azalea Inscription” on the northwest enclosure wall was reproduced to replicate the original. Because the stucco background of the inscription was badly cracked and spalled, the inscription could not be restored but had to be replaced. To insure an accurate replacement, photographs and measurements were taken and drawings made. Also, the original 1935 Beatrix Farrand workshop drawing for the inscription was consulted to insure that the lettering would not have a mechanical, typographical appearance.

Azalea Inscription (Model for the Full Scale Drawing), Garden Archives, GD I-2-15. Azalea Inscription (Model for the Full Scale Drawing), Garden Archives, GD I-2-15.

Fragments of the original inscription were salvaged and are now housed in the Dumbarton Oaks Archives.

The inscription was located next to a white azalea in the pool area:

Like the flash of a wing

I came upon

The loveliest thing

Since Avalon

White Blossoming

Azaleas wan

As a wounded king

As a dying swan

 

The verse is the fourth stanza of the poem Reprieve by Joseph Auslander (1897–1965). Auslander, a graduate of Harvard College, was a good friend of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss and would become the first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress between 1937 and 1941.

Azalea Inscription, Reconstruction, 2016 Azalea Inscription, Reconstruction, 2016

Document Actions