Eustis Estate

Octagon Room

William B. E. Ranken (1881-1941); Gloucester, Massachusetts; 1928; Watercolor; Gift of Constance McCann Betts, Helena Woolworth Guest, and Frasier W McCann, 1942.4629. 

In 1928, Country Life commissioned British artist William B. E. Ranken (1881-1941) to create eight room-portraits at Beauport. The three displayed here demonstrate how well Ranken captured the rooms’ subtle effects, and also reflect Sleeper’s extraordinary creativity in the early 1920s. 

Ranken’s painting of the Octagon Room, built in 1911, showcases its powerful scheme of pulsating reds; “one could sit for hours in this room absorbing its beauty and color,” Country Life declared. The greatest love letter Sleeper ever wrote to Piatt Andrew, the room alludes in its palette to his neighbor’s home, Red Roof; in its numerous French motifs, to their years together in Paris during World War I; and in its octagonal shape, to the traditional form of a sailor’s valentine.