Learn about Gari Melchers, a portraitist, and American Impressionist painter.
Gari Melchers pursued European training and learned to become a figure painter and portraitist. Melchers was popular, and in 1882, one of his paintings was accepted by the Salon of Paris -- the most prestigious art exhibition of the time. His best-known works include the murals depicting War and Peace in the rotunda of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. After Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne (also an artist) left their European home at the beginning of World War l, they purchased a beautiful two-story home in 1916. The estate became known as Belmont. The oldest part of the house was built in the mid-to-late 18th century.
Most of the changes to the home occurred when the Ficklen family owned it from 1825 to 1916. The formal gardens and outbuildings were also enhanced to serve as an elegant country retreat for the couple. The stone studio building on the grounds and a stone garage both date to when the Melchers' lived there. Mrs. Melcher added a summer house after her husband died in 1932. After Corinne Melchers died in 1955, the property was given to the state and included most of the couple's possessions in the house.
Most historic homes of Virginia are furnished with original antiques, but, this home is furnished with unusual European antiques and objects to show the international tastes and the lifestyle of the Melchers. This place doubles as an art museum with 1,600 different artworks on display. Among the art, you will see Gari's sketches and studies, works by other artists that he collected, and paintings by his wife, Corinne. The estate encompasses 27 acres, including the historical home, art studios, and galleries. There are gardens and historic buildings on the property and several miles of walking trails. The museum is open on weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm and from 10 am to 5 pm on weekends. The museum shop is open from 10 am to 5 pm. Please note that guided tours are an hour and a half long. The gardens and walking trails are free to explore during public hours.