OF THE AMERICAN WEST
Saloon Art & Decor Photo
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Hoffman House & the
Nymphs and Satyr, New York City
This image available for prints and downloads
Grand Saloon in the Hoffman House was very elegant in its day. Located on
Broadway, between Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Streets, the hotel's
saloon was the
most famous in all of New York City in the late 1800's. The plush
high-ceilinged saloon measuring 50'x70' was paneled in mahogany and
displayed a long wooden, heavily carved bar, which included the customary
brass-plated footrest. The floor was covered with Turkish rugs, marble and
bronze statues of Eve and Bacchus stood within, and the
walls were hanged with fine tapestries, said to have been made especially
for Napoleon I. Also adorning the walls were several nude paintings, the
most famous of which was an an enormous painting called Nymphs and
Satyr, by French artist Adolphe William Bouguereau.
Seventeen bartenders worked each shift,
squeezing fresh fruit into elaborate cocktails, pouring rare French
wines or 50 year-old brandy. It was here that the Hoffman House
Cocktail (Manhattan cocktail) was christened as well as the Hoffman
House Fizz, an ornate, creamy affair.
Its most famous draw was the painting,
Nymphs and Satyr, which dominated one wall and could easily be
viewed in the large mirror that hung behind the bar, so customers
could admire it more discreetly. The eight-foot-tall painting was
situated under a re velvet canopy and lit by a large chandelier.
Nymphs and Satyr depicts four voluptuous, naked young women
teasing a half-human woodland creature of Greek mythology. A
reproduction of the painting appeared on boxes of Hoffman House
Cigars, which were carried all over the country. For a hefty fee, the
Hoffman House would also allow its name and the painting to be used to
advertising products like tobacco and whiskey. As a result, Nymphs
and Satyr was replicated on
saloon signs and a wide array of merchandising items. Before long,
the painting became a national sensation and anyone who came to New York just had to see it.
The Hoffman House Hotel was built in 1864
by Reed, Wall & Co. and that same year it served as headquarters for
Generals Winfield Scott and Benjamin F. Butler when they were sent to New York to help put down the bloody draft riots which threatened to sweep
Manhattan into the arms of the Confederacy. It quickly became the recognized headquarters of Democratic politicians, vying with the
Republicans who were headquartered on Fifth Avenue. Boss Tweed made it a
sort of unofficial annex to Tammany Hall, meeting there with his henchmen
to plan campaign strategy.
Nymphs and Satyr
now belongs to the
Francine Clark Art Institute.
This image available for
prints and downloads
In 1872, Cassius M. Reed was the proprietor
of the Hoffman House, at which time, a handsome and flamboyant man named
Edward "Ned" S. Stokes, called the hotel home. Ned Stokes, who had
previously been a friend to James Fisk, known later as one of the "robber
barons" of the Gilded Age, However, the friendship would end when Stokes
moved in on Fisk's
mistress, Josie Mansfield, an actress of limited talent. Scandal and a
sensational lawsuit followed, with charges of blackmail, extortion and
libel. After a quarrel on January 6, 1872 at the Broadway Central Hotel,
Stokes shot Fisk dead. He was tried, found guilty of manslaughter, and
sentenced to Sing-Sing Prison for six years. Four years later, Stokes was
released and resumed living at the Hoffman House.
Shortly afterwards, Stokes became partners
with Cassius M. Reed and the two began to embark on several ventures
including an asphalt block paving company, mining speculations, and horse
racing. Even though Mrs. Reed warned her husband against this fine fellow
with his smooth ways, Reed always said: "Nonsense, Ned Stokes is all
right." Stokes, also friends with another Hoffman House partner, John W.
Mackay. In 1872, Ned Stokes bought a part interest in the Hoffman House
with money advanced to him by his family. Until his retirement in 1897,
Stokes would become the chief in the management of the hotel.
Ned's flamboyant and voluptuous tastes soon
set the tone of the Hoffman House. The gentleman's bar, home of the
Manhattan cocktail and the famous painting, Nymphs and Satyr, was
its focal point. Ned had purchased the painting at a private auction for
$10,000. Just a few years later, he turned down an offer of three times
that much. Both the hotel and its famous Grand Saloon hosted an
The Hoffman House and the adjoining
Albemarle Hotel in 1910, just five short
years before they were torn down.
Image is available for prints and
Cleveland stopped there frequently and was living their when he was
elected for his second term in 1893. The hotel would also house
numerous famous people including
Ulysses S. Grant,
William Randolph Hearst,
"Buffalo Bill" Cody, Sarah Bernhardt, and many others. Over the years, the successful
hotel was expanded including an eight-story addition in 1882 and a
12-story addition in 1907. By this time, the Hoffman House,
along with the Albermarle Hotel next door
occupied all of the Broadway frontage.
In 1897, Ned Stokes retired from the management of the
hotel, but, his famous painting,
Nymphs and Satyr, would remain at the hotel until his death in 1901.
Afterwards, his art treasures, including Nymphs and Satyr, were
sold at auction for about $200,000. The famous painting was then stored in
a warehouse, the buyer hoping to keep its "offensive" content from the
Over the next several years, investors in
the hotel came and went while hotel popularity in the city began to move
uptown. In October, 1910, the hotel went into bankruptcy and in April of
the following year, it was announced that it would close permanently.
However, creditors stepped in and the hotel continued on until 1915. At
that time, it was sold to a developer for $3,500,000. The Hoffman House
closed its doors forever on March 15, 1915 and the new owners took
possession one month later. Beginning on May 1, 1915, both the Hoffman
House and the adjoining Albemarle Hotel were razed to erect 16-story
office and loft building on the site.
Afterwards, the famous Adolphe William Bouguereau painting, Nymphs
and Satyr, remained hidden until 1942, when Robert Sterling Clark
discovered the piece in storage. Mr. Clark first encountered the painting at
the end of the nineteenth century, when it hung in the bar of the Hoffman
It was shown for the first time in decades
in 1943 when one newspaper reported:
"A fabulous painting which scandalized the
'80s was seen in public last week for the first time since 1901. In
Manhattan's Durand-Ruel Galleries visitors could look upon 's nearly
12-ft. masterpiece, Nymphs and Satyr. A quartet of ripe, naked
maidens prancing around a preoccupied faun was for 24 years the despair of
Victorian moralists and the delight of the clubmen who crowded Manhattan's
Hoffman House bar."
Today, the painting is a permanent part of
the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, more commonly known as "The
Clark," located in Williamstown, Massachusetts. At present, it is on
display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, on loan,
through April, 2014, while the museum undergoes renovations.
of America, updated Septembere, 2016.
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