NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, Sheridan/Kalorama, Architecturally Significant, Asian/Pacific Islander, Diplomats, Female, Journalists, Showbiz, Translators, Visual Arts

Mai-Mai Sze
(December 2, 1909 – July 16, 1992)

2001 19th St NW, Kalorama neighborhood, DC. Former Chinese Legation (1902-1944).

Born in China, Sze spent her childhood in Great Britain and Washington, DC, where she attended the National Cathedral School. She went on to study at Wellesley College, from which she graduated in 1931.

Her landscape paintings were exhibited in New York, Paris and London and wrote an authorial book about Chinese painting The Tao of Painting, which included her translation of the 15th Century Chinese text Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting. She also modeled for many of the leading artists of the day including Miguel Covarrubias, George Platt Lynes, and Carl Van Vechten. In 1936 Sze appeared on Broadway in Hsiung Shih-I's Lady Precious Stream.

She wrote a column for the New York Post and was a frequent book reviewer for the New York Times.

The author of novels, political treatises and memoirs, her books include Toward a Democratic Foreign Policy (1944), Echo of a Cry: A Story Which Began in China (1945), Silent Children: A Novel 1948), The Tao of Painting: A Study of the Ritual Disposition of Chinese Painting: With a Translation of the Chieh Tzu Yüan Hua Chuan, Or, Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting, 1679-1701 (1956), The Way of Chinese Painting, Its Ideas and Technique: With Selections from the Seventeenth-Century Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (1959).

Sze lived in this residence from 1921-1927 as the daughter of Alfred Sao-ke Sze, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States.


Also home of Yan Huiqing and Tcheng Yu-hsiu.

Architect: Waddy Wood, Edward Donn, Jr. and William I. Deming.
Year: 1902.
A Georgian Revival mansion, built for the Imperial Chinese Legation, this building was divided into 13 condominiums in 1944. The building retains its grand entry foyer, fireplaces, and much of its original wood beams, floors, and trim.