I hate to say it, but I've lived 30 minutes from Winterthur my whole life ... and I've never gone until this past week. Like Longwood and Nemours (still have not been to the latter), Winterthur only exists because the DuPonts loved living la bella vita. And let me tell you: le loro vite furono BELLE. (btw, it's pronounced "Winter-tour" ... it's on their website if you don't believe me.)
Before I go any further, let me ask my close friends to please text me ASAP if clicking on the above photo does not take you to my web album of Winterthur. You know who you are (and I know that you're looking at this at work). Also, try clicking on this and hopefully it will take you to the album? OR, copy and paste this link in your browser:
Also, before I go even further than that, don't get your hopes up for the photos: at least half of them are pictures of crystal chandeliers rather than the Christmas decor featured this time of year.
One of the best things about our trip last week was discovering that our tickets were good two days in a row. We thought we would have to cram everything indoors and out into one afternoon, but we decided to do the indoor tour the first day and come back the following day for the garden tour. On both days, it was nearly 60 degrees and sunny. Does that exactly feel like Christmas? No. Am I complaining?? NO. It was perfect. We had The Coolest Tour Guide Ever on Day 2 when we went through the gardens. There were only five of us on the tour, and we loved how Mr. Duncan referred to the plants and trees as "he" and "she." I do that too ... I'm not really sure how I go about assigning gender to my plants, but it just happens on its own. (Ferns, I have noticed, are inevitably "she" and larger plants, like my Norfolk pine, always end up being "he.")
I know I'm stating the obvious here, but if you look at the individual items in each room, it's astounding what this family could afford. Take, for example, the beautiful mother-daughter portrait beneath the stairwell. Even today, it costs a small fortune to have a large-ish portrait painted. Imagine what that money could have bought you in the late-1920s/early-1930s during the Depression? They don't have ONE portrait. They have MANY portraits. I don't have a picture of the huge silver tea services that I saw, but there were several ... not to mention all of the crystal lighting, the impossibly detailed moldings and woodwork (and all the people paid to create them), and the incredible hand-painted, imported-across-one-continent-then-one-ocean-and-then-another-continent-to-Delaware wallpapers. Trust me: I did a story on wallpapers for a magazine a few years back, and you would be shocked regarding the cost of today's high-end (ie, non-handpainted, not really that special, just-well-made-by-today's-standards) wallpaper. So, imagine what the DuPonts paid for their one of a kind wallcoverings? And the gardens: Some of the trees in the gardens are one of kind. If they do exist elsewhere, they're on another continent in a faraway land. "Disposable income" doesn't begin to cover what's here ... it's so vast that you can't even feel the slightest twinge of jealousy walking from room to room. It just is. And it's so cool.
I know this is so lame, but I have nothing else to offer on this topic. Pictures are worth a thousand words--take a look!