Tuesday, May 14, 2013
A view into the Garden Court of the Frick. (click on photos for a larger view)
I recently visited the Frick Collection, the perennial New York City favorite on the upper east side, in order to see a current exhibition called The Impressionist Line from Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec: Drawings and Prints from the Clark. Readers of this blog probably know that the Frick Collection was created by Henry Clay Frick, the turn-of-the-century American industrialist, financier and art patron.
His home on Fifth Avenue was built in 1912-1914, and when he passed away in 1919 the house became a museum filled with his old master paintings and French furniture, which we enjoy today. The Frick offers an elegant, Edwardian trip back in time at the corner of 70th and 5th. I hadn't been in a while, so I took a spin through.
Eight canvases painted by Francois Boucher line the walls of this salon. The romantic canvases originally were installed in Mrs. Frick's boudoir upstairs.
Painted panels by Fragonard decorate the walls of the drawing room. The large, poetic panels picture the different stages of love.
In 2011, an outdoor walkway was enclosed with glass to create the new Portico Gallery. Currently, it houses an exhibition of important clocks and watches.
The West Gallery was where Mr. Frick displayed many of the paintings he collected. In his time, paintings were hung on top of each other, salon-style.
The peaceful Garden Court was originally an exterior courtyard. It was covered with glass when the house was converted into a museum.
In the smaller gallery downstairs, a visitor now finds The Impressionist Line from Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec: Drawings and Prints from the Clark. The Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, Mass., has a great collection of nineteenth century French art, and 58 of its works have traveled to the Frick with this exhibit which was organized by curators Jay A. Clarke from the Clark and Colin B. Bailey and Susan Grace Galassi from the Frick. Emphasising spontaneity and expressiveness over a polished finish, these drawings and prints capture contemporary life in nineteenth century France.
A busy Paris street by Pissarro -
Camille Pissarro (1830–1903)
Boulevard de Rochechouart, 1880
Pastel on beige wove paper
23 9/16 x 28 15/16 inches
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1996.5
Bathers by Cezanne -
Paul Cézanne (1839–1906)
The Bathers: Large Plate, 1898
Lithograph printed in black, green, yellow-green, orange, gray, blue, and purple-blue on cream laid paper
19 x 24 13/16 inches
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1962.26
An entertainer by Toulouse-Lautrec -
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901)
The Seated Clowness (Miss Cha-U-Kao), from Elles, 1896
Lithograph printed in green-black, black-brown, yellow, red, and blue on cream wove paper
20 11/16 x 15 13/16 inches
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1962.108
Boating by Morisot -
Berthe Morisot (1841–1895)
Before a Yacht, 1875
Watercolor over graphite on cream wove paper
8 1/8 x 10 9/16 inches
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1964
I am right now reading Rosamond Bernier's memoir Some of My Lives, where I learned that Berthe Morisot married Eduard Manet's brother Eugene Manet, and they had a daughter, Julie Manet. Did you know that? This Morisot watercolor also reminded me of the Morisot paintings now on view at the Impressionism and fashion exhibit currently mounted up the street at the Met. This drawings and prints show at the Frick, up until June 16th, dovetails nicely with the Impressionism and fashion show at the Met. Go!
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Take a seat in Union Square (click on photos to enlarge)
Spring is tiptoeing in late to New York City this year. Unusually cool weather lingers and has kept the joys of April at bay, but slowly the trees and flowers of the city are coming to life. Because it is late and we are anticipating it, spring in New York seems more beautiful than I remember it being in the past. Its absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Up on the High Line, white flowering shrubs crowd an urban walkway.
At the Saturday morning Farmer's Market in Union Square, trays of plants are coming out for city gardeners.
A metal bucket of tulips was suspended in the air
and there is a profusion of bouquets to select from.
At Abingdon Square in Greenwich Village, a magnolia tree framed a renowned Bing & Bing apartment building
and pale petals fell to the ground around bright red tulips.
At Bryant Park in midtown, the tall trees are budding
and the tulip beds are bursting
but no sitting on the green lawn yet because it has just been re-seeded.
On Saturday I went to the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene which has recently moved back to its outdoor spot at the Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. A visitor leaving the Flea rode his bicycle down Lafayette Avenue -
Sunday was a warm and clear day in Central Park. My favorite place to be is around the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir where pink trees are now blooming in profusion. I believe these are Kwanzan cherry trees from Japan.
Families had picnics under the branches. Very Sunday in the Park with George.
The majestic towers of the San Remo apartment building on the west side rose above the soft green and pink colors of springtime Central Park.
I love that combination of urban architecture plus spring blooms, art plus nature - it is the city at its best.
Friday, April 12, 2013
We enjoyed a weekend-long celebration recently when my cousin and goddaughter Erin Mumford wed her betrothed Andrew Glenn here on the isle of Manhattan. Erin's father Brian is the brother of my mother, and her sister Lindsay got married on Lake George last summer. Erin loves New York like I do and she has made several appearances here on the blog. She and Andrew live in New York City, and happily they do not have plans to leave.
Before their wedding we had the couple over for dinner and thought that for dessert a small wedding cake would be fun (see photo above) so I found myself one lunch hour in a place I had never been before – the bowels of The Party Store on West 34th Street. I was looking for a bride and groom cake topper, and I found one in Aisle 6 where another customer was perusing the goods. "They should have these couples in mixed races and gay and lesbian!" she exclaimed to me. She went on to tell me that she was getting married to her girlfriend and she was nervous about it but her ex-girlfriend had already gotten married so she was going to go ahead and do it.
And that is why we love New York.
On the weekend of Erin and Andrew's wedding, my family went on Friday night to meet the bridal party for a drink in a bar on the Bowery. Then on Saturday the wedding was held in a beautiful loft space in Tribeca with great views of the city and the Hudson River beyond.
After the happy ceremony
there was a wonderful wedding reception with good food and drink,
(photo of Andrew and Erin by Debora Brakarz)
and lots of dancing.
When we got home from the wedding on Saturday night we found the couple's wedding announcement in the Sunday New York Times. The next day was Saint Patrick's Day and we are Irish so attention was paid. First there was a brunch at the swanky Andaz Wall Street hotel - here is Erin with my sister Cynthia. Then it was up to the East Village for drinks in an Irish bar.
But, before the wedding ended on Saturday night, guests were given battery-powered sparklers so we could send the couple off in a shower of dazzles and light,
and the very best wishes for their life to come here in NYC.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Recently on the bookstore shelf, this tome caught my eye. The Scottish Country House celebrates the great homes of Scotland which have been lived in by the families that built them or those who have owned them for generations. I have never been to Scotland though I have been to Ireland, where my great grandparents hailed from, and to England. Scotland would be a fun trip some day.
While looking at the book I was reminded that on the last episode this year of Downton Abbey, the Grantham family took a trip to Scotland where they visited Lord Grantham's cousin Shrimpie Flintshire. The scenes in Scotland were filmed at Inveraray Castle on Loch (that means "lake" but you knew that) Fyne in Argyll.
We all know how that trip ended... Every time someone has a baby at Downton Abbey, a major character dies.
The Scottish Country House, which is written by James Knox and photographed by James Fennell, visits ten grand houses and castles for an up close look at how the Scottish landed gentry lives. I was struck throughout by the use of color in rooms. Some rooms had creamy colored walls and bright sofas and chairs in raspberry or sapphire of daffodil. Other rooms had neutral colored furniture but boldly painted walls like this mint green sitting room.
This rod room features fishing poles, walking sticks with horn handles, and emerald green wallpaper. And really, every house needs a rod room!
I like how the art work was hung in this simple Victorian bathroom which reminds me a little of the upstairs one at 611.
Picture hanging is taken to the extreme in the hall of the eighteenth century house Arniston where the ancestors watch the stairs.
For a picturesque trip to Scotland, pick up a copy of this volume. You'll enjoy the architecture and furnishings and rolling Scottish views. And you won't suffer like the Granthams.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
For a peaceful visit to a more elegant era, go see Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, up now through May 27th. It's a wonderful trip to late nineteenth century France complete with masterpiece paintings, clothes from the period and accessories to match. This show, which came from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (one of my very favorite places to visit) and goes next to the Art Institute of Chicago, celebrates how fashion and art merged in Impressionism paintings to create truly modern works.
Previously, artists of the nineteenth century had looked for inspiration to ancient Greece (Neoclassicism) or to nature (Romanticism). But the Impressionists were inspired by contemporary life and how people were living every day. With the rise of the department store, ready made garments, and fashion magazines, clothes and style became prominent subjects for these artists. "The latest fashion is absolutely necessary for a painting. It's what matters most," declared Edouard Manet.
The show consists of 80 paintings plus 16 period costumes and an array of accessories. You can almost hear the rustle of silk and imagine settling into a box seat at the Paris Opera as you move through the exhibit which transports to another time and place. No photography is allowed inside but I gathered up images of some of my favorite paintings on display -
James Tissot painted the family of the Marquise de Miramon on their terrace. With dramatic high boots, the Marquise is wearing a dove grey suit, but it is a relaxed country suit and not a structured city suit. (click on images to enlarge)
Here is The Sisters by Berthe Morisot. I love how the pale wall, Asian art, floral chintz and dotted dresses all go together in this painting.
Albert Bartholome captured his wife reading. The details of the carved frame, vase of flowers, gold bracelets, glossy hair comb and printed pillow create a most pleasing scene. The information card said this pictured her before entertaining. Doesn't everyone lie down and read a book before entertaining?
A woman is portrayed relaxing in a summer dress in July by Tissot. Although you can imagine it is a hot day, she is pictured in tiers of fluttering ruffles and silk bows that decorate a dress which reminded me of Carolina Herrera.
This is one of my very favorite paintings and I was so happy to see it in person as it is on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in London. Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby is pictured by Tissot languidly smoking in his captain's uniform which flatters and elongates his 6' 4" body. I love the contrast of the soft shabby-chic upholstery and chintz with the severity of the military paraphernalia. The scene captures an easy elegance.
Here is a picture of Eduard Manet painted by Georges de la Tour in 1867 in which Manet wears a typical menswear outfit of the late nineteenth century – white shirt, blue tie, black jacket and vest plus light grey pants and brown leather gloves – easy to replicate minus the walking cane and silk top hat.
The show closes with Paris Street by Gustave Caillobotte, a very large painting which perfectly captures urban life in 1877 as these Parisians stride confidently and with style into the future.
The show is accompanied by a luxurious, thick catalogue
which includes many interesting essays on the paintings and clothes presented.
This show inspires the visitor to live a more refined life. I hope to see it again.