Sparing no expense, Marland gathered artisans from all over the world to work on his palace during the three years it was under construction. One of the most notable was Vincent Maragliotti, an internationally known Italian mural artist. He and his assistants are responsible for all of the ornately painted ceilings in the mansion.
As you enter the Mansion, you are greeted by the first of the Maragliotti ceilings. The intricate detail of the lobby ceiling sets the tone for our tour.
Mr. Marland's "Palace on the Prairie" has the warmth of a cozy hunting lodge and the class of the world's finest castles. Simply raise your eyes to experience these priceless treasures.
This walnut ceiling is stenciled with five repeating patterns on the insets and the fleur-de-lis pattern with dragons on the beams.
There are two decorative barrel ceilings in the mansion. One is found in the formal dining room on the entry level. The second is located above the stairway and landing on the upper level. Both ceilings are made of plaster and were cast at bench level then raised, all in one piece and are held in place by cables.
E.W. Marland was raised as an aristocrat and fancied himself somewhat as royalty. In each of the squares in the dining room ceiling you'll notice the pattern of the Scottish thistle, and in each circle, the English Tudor rose. These two flowers represent Mr. Marland's heritage; his mother being of Scottish descent and his father, English. The English Tudor rose is also a universal symbol of royalty.
Other designs in the ceiling carry out the royal theme with castle turrets, crowns and fleur-de-lis.
The upper level ceiling contains many of the same elements highlighted by the diamond pattern. The Italian stucco walls and bronze and glass light fixtures help accent the molded ceiling.
There are two mirroring staircases leading up to the Gallery level. Each boasts a domed ceiling done in gold leaf mosaic. Both were put together, piece by piece, in place, by Florentine mural artist, Vincent Maragliotti. He then added the Renaissance paintings.
The owls add a whimsical touch, perched atop sculpted columns.
The ceiling located above the landing directly at the top of the staircases forms the middle portion of the elegant gold leaf mosaic.
Maragliotti's eye for color and attention to detail make these ceilings masterpieces that will continue to withstand the test of time.
On the gallery level landing you're able to see an additional distinctive ceiling treatment. This one is painted directly on the walnut ceiling in subdued colors and is accented by a Lalique fluted crystal light fixture.
This griffin graces each of the corners on this free-style ceiling. Dragons appear throughout the mansion, not only in the painted ceilings, but also on the carved wood, the wrought iron, and the exterior stonework.
To take a side tour of the mansion dragons, click here.
The ceilings in the north and south salons are identical. These gallery-level ceilings are a stencil pattern done in Italian Renaissance style. We're told this ceiling was painted in the same fashion as that of the Sistine Chapel, with the artists laying on their backs, on scaffolding.
The light fixtures are solid bronze, weighing 250 pounds each and suspended by cables in the same manner as the ceiling in the dining room.
The loggia ceiling was painted in a style called Chinese Chippendale, or the more formal term, Chinoiserie (Shin-wah'-ser-ee). It was painted on canvas in the basement and then applied to the plaster overhead, and even though it was painted flat and then displayed curved, there's no distortion in the figures.
If you'd like to see more of the detail of this beautiful ceiling, click on the thumbnail images below.
This ceiling is one of the most talked about in the mansion. What you're looking at is not gold paint, but 24kt gold leaf. Sheets of gold were hammered leaf thin and adhesive was applied to the ceiling wherever they wanted the gold to be. They would lift the sheet of gold and static electricity would hold it in place while they brushed over it. Wherever there was no adhesive, the gold would fall away.
In 1928, Mr. Marland paid $80,000 for the gold on this ceiling. The two Waterford crystal chandeliers were purchased as antiques in Ireland for $15,000 each. To replace the ceiling and chandeliers today, would cost close to $2 million.
Lower Level Hallway - Hall of Merriment
This is the great hall, the "Hall to Merriment." As you embark on the stairway, you are greeted by another of Maragliotti's hand-painted walnut ceilings. This ceiling boasts one of the smallest, yet most original light fixtures in the mansion, and another unique design.
Wood carvings are perched in each of the upper corners in the great hall. Whimsical friars representing "eat, drink, and be merry" set the mood of things to come. One friar eats a turkey leg, the second drinks from a stein, the third from a flask, and the fourth enjoys a pinch of snuff.
The ceiling in the inner lounge is one-of-a-kind. Before this ceiling was painted, one of the Italian artist's assistants went to Washington D.C. and spent six weeks studying Oklahoma history at the Smithsonian Institute. The ceiling depicts the history of Kay County beginning with the pre-Columbian Indians, then the more familiar Plains Indians.
With each beam, the history of the county progresses showing the last of the great land runs, the run of 1893 that opened this part of Indian Territory to the settlers.
The final beam features Ponca City in the 1920's, including the oil rigs and this mansion.