Gari Melchers Home and Studio

Gari Melchers , b 1860- d 1932
224 Washington Street, Falmouth, VA 22405 - view on Google Maps
540-654-1015
“On my return to Fredericksburg, I walked through the house and opening the back door, looked down the hill across the fields and the river. The beauty of Virginia made me wonder how I could ever have left it even for a winter.”
—Gari Melchers
The 18th-century Belmont estate was the country home and studio of prominent portraitist, muralist, and American Impressionist painter Gari Melchers (1860-1932). The house contains Gari and Corinne Melchers’ original furnishings and personal art collection, the studio houses over 1600 works by Melchers, and the 27-acre grounds feature restored formal gardens and miles of walking trails.

ABOUT

Like most aspiring American artists of his generation, Melchers pursued European training, acquiring a solid academic foundation that served him well as a figure painter and portraitist. As an expatriate with studios in Paris, Holland, and Germany, he built a reputation as a painter of everyday life, including the sphere of women, subjects he continued to pursue on his permanent return to the United States in 1916, much in thanks to the inspiration he derived from the beauty of Belmont and the surrounding community. Premier paintings of this period are The Hunters, Nelson Berry’s Store, St. George’s Church and Young Woman Sewing.

The couple purchased the estate in 1916 to serve as a welcome respite from their travels and Melchers’ hectic work schedule in New York. At Belmont’s idyllic setting they entertained family and friends, with a guest list often including prominent figures of the day like Calvin Coolidge and David Lloyd George.

It was also the couple’s intention to invest their storied property with a colonial air in the spirit of the revivalist movement of the day, further developing the immediate lawns around the house with old fashioned perennial gardens, a vegetable garden, and fruit orchard. The mid-19th century horseshoe-shaped stairs at the front elevation of the house must have been a source of pride for the couple who photographed it often. They further embellished the grounds with a handsome summer house, picturesque farm buildings and gates, stone walls, and sculpture. They raised turkeys, often the centerpiece of holiday meals, and featured ice cream at many events, manufactured from the milk provided by their dairy cattle.

Belmont literally reverberates with its past. Because the couple was childless, the property was left in its entirety to the Commonwealth of Virginia, with the result that it is one of America’s best preserved and most richly detailed artist studios and residences. One half expects Gari and Corinne Melchers to walk through the door at any moment, so redolent are their spirits here.

Did you know...?

Mrs. George W. Bush, Linda Johnson Robb, Linda Ronstadt, and Louise Fletcher are among our distinguished guests.

SPECIAL RESOURCES

The artist and his wife left an extensive collection of books, as well as letters, photographs, art journals, and exhibition catalogues.

WHAT TO DO HERE

  • Guided tours
  • Museum shop
  • Restored formal gardens
  • Hiking trails
  • Picnics
  • Stafford County Visitor Center
  • Classes, lectures, workshops
  • Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
  • Indoor studio scavenger hunt and family labels
  • Geochaching

YOU CAN ALSO SEE THE ART HERE:

  • Krupp Collection, Essen, Germany
  • National Gallery, Berlin, Germany
  • Murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN