PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF RICHARD MELLON SCAIFE
Concluding his memoirs, Richard Mellon Scaife asks whether anyone will ever wonder:
“Gee, that Dick Scaife, he surrounded himself with curious and beautiful things that he collected on his own, over a lifetime, and enjoyed keeping and having around him. What do these objects tell us about the man? Really, the man behind the image. The private man the media never knew, never got quite right.”
Throughout his long and storied life, Richard Mellon Scaife remained both iconoclastic and enigmatic. Celebrated for his philanthropic largesse, he supported causes ranging from environmental conservation, political thought, free speech and the fine arts. Scaife’s private collection, however, paints a more intimate portrait of a fun-loving man who found inspiration in whimsy and charm; a collector with a keen eye and an adventurous spirit. Scaife prided himself on his discoveries: from the Pietra Paesina panels on an exquisite cabinet to an extensive collection of Staffordshire porcelain.
Richard Mellon Scaife divided his time between four unique residences, each of which he relished with equal fervor. Diverse in locale and décor, the homes fancifully embraced their settings through fine furnishings, collectibles and, above all else, ceramics. Scaife’s stately residence in Pittsburgh featured choice pieces of English furniture, acquired from top London trade such as Mallett and Jeremy. The collector’s country home in Ligonier, Pennsylvania—named Vallamont, in honor of both the valley and the mountains in which it was nestled—hid a trove of hunting-themed ceramics and silver. His Spanish-style home, Wit’s End, along the famed thirteenth hole of Pebble Beach, contained an assortment of Continental treasures. Lastly, his shingled, oceanfront home in Nantucket was infused with the airy, breezy sentiment one could only find in an island idyll. Each of these homes was occupied by hundreds of pieces of fine American art, which he bequeathed to the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and Brandywine River Museum.
The Collection of Richard Mellon Scaife provides a singular glimpse into a prominent and influential American figure. Each individual work of fine and decorative art tells a story encompassing history, collecting provenance, and a collector’s life. As Scaife himself wrote, “This stuff is me. It is what I like, what I’m about, and have enjoyed putting together during my years on earth.” EW, RG.