The Blisses acquired this impressive Swiss or German ceramic heating stove from a collector in Switzerland late in 1926 just as their architect, Lawrence Grant White, was finalizing design work on the Music Room and its entrance hallway. White incorporated a niche for the stove on the western wall of the hallway and on-axis with the transverse hallway in the house so that the stove would be the focal point as one walked toward the Music Room. In shipment to Paris, the stove was badly damaged, and in early 1927, Robert Bliss wrote White: “The news of the destruction of the Swiss stove was a knock-out blow…Who could possibly restore it, as we are very desirous of having it placed as planned. We never will be able to find so pretty a one again.” The stove eventually was repaired and incorporated into the design as the Blisses intended. When in 1946 the architect Thomas T. Waterman added a connecting passageway between his new Museum Wing and the Main House, the niche and stove were relocated to the south end of the Music Room hallway where they remain.
The stove is interesting for its Masonic imagery on the front side and on the two roundels of the finial piece. On the front, the child dressed in a toga, seated in front of an arched construction and a pyramid, appears to be making an offering at a stovelike altar. This image is repeated in one of the roundels; on the other a nude child in twisted pose holds the model of a domed structure. The festoons of oak leaves and acorns found at the sides of the stove may have appealed particularly to the Blisses, whose property was then known as The Oaks. According to the antiques scholar J. M. Dennis, this stove is one of a small group of closely related stoves with hand-finished molded elements, suggesting that they were assembled from a series of stock parts.
Dennis, Jessie McNab. "The Art of Keeping Warm." Antiques 89, no. 3 (March 1966): 375f, fig. 5.
Bühl, Gudrun, editor. Dumbarton Oaks, The Collections. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (distributed by Harvard University Press), 2008, 354f, ill.
Purchased from Alice Koechlin-Anderson, Morges, Switzerland by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, 11/22/1926.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, DC, 11/22/1926-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, DC.