Sunday, March 17, 2019

Green Book


Speaking of advances in technology as I did last week, we now have “streaming”,  and are able to get first run films on line for a lower cost than going to the movies.  Admittedly, some films would lose a lot being seen on a regular TV screen, but small intimate films may even have more impact on the television being watched with family at home.

So it was with the film chosen to receive the Oscar for best film of the year, “Green Book”.   I will not get into whether it was the best since I have not seen all the other movies.  Those who actually vote get DVD’s sent to them so that they can view all the candidates and vote intelligently. 

“Green Book” has been referred to as a “feel good” picture which I guess it is though I found lots to think about.  Of course, what comes to mind right away are the films “Trading Places” the 1983 film with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy . A closer comparison, and the reverse of this film which is the 1989 movie, “Driving Miss Daisy” with Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman.  In the latter a black driver is hired to drive  the white Miss Daisy around and she resists until they find their common ground. “Green Book” reverses the roles. 


First off, why the title?  I grew up in the 1940’s and 1950’s and still remember the signs down South for the “coloreds Only” water fountains and restrooms.  I had to ask my parents why I could not use them… I don’t remember their response other than a sense of disgust in their voices.  What I never realized, until now, is that “The Negro Motorist Green Book” was an annual guidebook for African-Americans.  Driving was one way to avoid issues of segregation on the train or plane.  I had no idea this guide existed, which is even embarrassing to admit.

1940 edition, Wikimedia Commons/
Collection of the New York Public Library

The film is based on a true story of the very successful pianist, Don Shirley, played by Mahershala Ali,who lived a priviledged life in an ornate apartment above Carnegie Hall. Having agreed to do a tour in the South in 1962 he needed a driver.  After interviewing a number of white applicants, he decided to go with an Italian-American bouncer from the Copa Cabana, Frank Vallelonga known as Tony the Lip, played by Viggo Mortensen. Tony has been laid-off while the Copa is being renovated.  In real life when he went back to work at the Copa he was promoted to Maitre d’. 

The two protagonists in the film begin to defend each other as they run into the problems you would expect where even a celebrity is not allowed to eat in an all-white dining room and black and white individual association is considered wrong. Before he left on their tour, Tony’s wife insisted that he write which he did not do well as he had never gone beyond a grade school education. During the trip Don Shirley turns his driver’s clumsy prose into flowery love letters.  A true bond is formed between these two disparate men where each learns from the other. No, maybe all the problems of the world will not be cured by this sort of one-on-one interaction but it is a step in the right direction.  Here is a trailer for the film:


The movie BlacKkKlansman by Spike Lee is set a decade later.  Here one could say is the other side of the coin and a sadder and more pessimistic one. It is based on the autobiography of the first black member of the Colorado Springs police force.  Even his successful infiltration into the Ku Klux Klan with the assistance of a white officer does not stop their evil program.  The point is made of why, African Americans still feel they need to fight for their rights in the light of recent events and our current administration, which is openly reproached in the film.  Because the Klan does not have much more love for Jews than they do for blacks, they too are included in this hate fest as the film ends with the White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the subsequent riots and the death of a counter-protester, and some of Trump’s remarks.

These two films show both how far we have come and at the same time how much further we need to go to try to change people’s fear of the other. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Met Live


Living in Santa Fe, New Mexico has many advantages, but New York did offer more access to the Arts.  Happily, however, progress in technology includes The Met Live which brings the Metropolitan Opera to millions across the globe.  We get to see it regularly at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

I must admit to a love hate relationship with opera and, frankly, I am often bored. I find the operas that last 4 hours or more with intermissions are just too long in the theatre.  Sometimes, however, there is an exception which makes me feel it was worth the pain of getting there.

This happened recently when we saw a performance of Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment” telecast via satellite from the Met.  To eliminate my only negative of the evening up front let me say that there were more transmission interruptions than ever before. These are short gaps, usually no more than a few seconds, but it can be annoying especially if it occurs during an aria, which is surprisingly rare.  I am convinced the radical weather patterns caused by global warming and resulting effects on the satellites are the source of the interruptions.

Having gotten rid of that nit-picking, the rest was fabulous.  As far as the length of the opera is concerned it was a 3 hour evening including one half hour intermission.  For those who have never seen the Met transmissions you get close ups which gives a more intimate feeling and focus to the evening.  Also, there are interesting interviews during the intermission.

When you go to the Metropolitan Opera and are sitting in the orchestra you might see the conductor from behind, but little of the musicians. If you sit in a loge or balcony you may see the entire orchestra pit but certainly not the expression on the conductor’s face.  In the telecasts, however, you can watch both the conductor and the members of the orchestra in closeups during the overtures.  Enrique Mazzola, the conductor at this performance, made Donizetti’s overture spectacular.  Though Spanish-born he is described as an Italian Conductor since he studied at the Milan Conservatory.  “La Fille du Regiment” is clearly in his bailiwick as his specialty is bel canto opera.  He seemed in seventh heaven as he led his charges who played superbly.


The soprano who was the daughter adopted by the Regiment was Pretty Yende.  She has a beautiful voice and her coloratura is perfectly effortless.  Her life story is what fairy tales are made of.  She grew up in a small town in South Africa where her family spoke Zulu.  Entering the University of Cape Town to study accounting she switched fields to graduate from The South African College of Music at the University.  She promptly gained an apprenticeship at La Scala and went on to graduate from The Accademia Teatro Alla Scala in Milan. Since graduating from the La Scala program in 2011 she has sung in all the major opera houses of Europe. Here is a snippet with Yende in La Filled du Regiment ...


There was, however, a second star, the Mexican tenor, Javier Camarena.  He had made his professional debut, as Tonio in a 2004 staging of “La Fille du Régiment”, at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and has obviously perfected this bel canto tour de force.  In his aria, “Ah! Mes amis” the tenor is expected to hit 9 high C’s. At our performance Camarena brought down the house and the audience would not let him go without an encore,--meaning 18 high C’s.  As he mentioned in his interview between the acts that does not include the 30 to 40 high C’s he hit while rehearsing in his dressing room!   Again, thanks to YouTube here is one of his encores ...



The supporting cast was also superb without a sour note and much humor.  Kathleen Turner, the actress, also had a small and very funny role (without singing) as The Dutchess of Krakenthorp.


Over 20 years ago when I took our son to the Metropolitan Opera as a teenager he came home and suggested to his mother that maybe the Met should spend more on training the chorus and less on their complicated sets.  Well, they must have heard him because today the chorus is the best, bar none.  So, as you can tell, we had another great evening enjoying one of the treasures of New York while sitting at the Lensic in Santa Fe.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Choir of Man


The Choir of Man … my first thought was what kind of a cult is that.  When my wife asked if I wanted to go, I thought, what? To listen to hours of religious music, no thank you.  My wife insisted, “you will really enjoy it”.  You guessed it, she was right.  What a performance!

No, the set on the stage of the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe was not a church but rather an Irish Pub.  Here I must digress to explain where I am coming from.  A bar to me is a crowded dark room where you push your way to the bar grab, grab, grab until someone hands you two drinks and then push, push, push your way back so that you can drink with your mate while being jostled around so that per chance there will be a place to sit down.  

A pub, however, has a far more convivial atmosphere with plenty of tables and not bad fare.  When I lived in London in the 1960’s I went to a pub for lunch every once in a while, though, to my chagrin, I do not care for beer, which is a must to have the whole experience.  There is one thing common to both, the bar and the pub, a much-used privy, and that was included in the Choir of Man’s performance. When was the last time you saw three men pissing on stage or at least the illusion thereof? Yes, we did actually see the piss ... gross?  Not with these jolly gentlemen.  For some reason I could not find a photo on line!  But I assure you the scene was modest but hilarious.

The Choir of Man starts their performance by inviting the entire audience (in the case of the Lensic, over 800 people) to come up on stage for a tankard of beer, or as they would say in Britain, a pint!  This festivity lasts for about 15 minutes by which time the audience is properly warmed up to enjoy the show even more, though it is difficult to know how that is possible.  

Like any good theater the show looks completely spontaneous.  In fact, it all began when the director, Nic Dodson, came upon an Irish pub where patrons had gathered with their instruments to sing and play. He developed a theatrical production through workshops and a casting call.  After they were given the basic idea for the show the professional cast members built it around their own musical tastes and talents. The original plan was to do the show in an actual pub.  From what I gather it was done in a pub or two and then brought to the stage.   Listening to our audience it was clear that many knew a lot more of these English, Irish and Scottish songs than I did. But there was also an occasional show tune or popular song.


The show has only been in existence since 2017 and this was their first tour of the States. This year they will also appear in Australia, UK and Europe.  It must be hard enough just to act on a worldwide tour but to be asked to jump and shout and appear sunny faced to an audience 24/7 must be a hell of a strain and a gift!

The Choir of Man may look like a burly lot but are they ever talented!  They all have good voices and at the performance we saw there was a wonderful tap dance performance.  While a piano and a couple of guitars are always onstage other instruments kept appearing including a banjo, ukulele, violin and accordion.  Various real and improvised drums (actually boxes) were used for percussion Even bagpipes were played, mercifully briefly.  In another version they produced a trumpet as well.  Having stomped around the stage with the others the bagpipe player was quite winded and took a moment before joining more song.  During tours around the country where they are playing a different house every night or two it can be a shock when you suddenly are singing and dancing at an altitude of nearly 7,000 feet. Santa Fe is at the same altitude as St. Moritz, Switzerland! 

The cast of nine was moving around so much that I found myself continuously counting how many people were actually on stage. For instance, the tap dancer must have slipped offstage to remove his taps before he rejoined the group singing and dancing.  Then they brought some audience members up to the stage and gave them small roles.  One critic wrote “for this, at times, cheesy, sing-a-long show and there are plenty who enjoy their moment on stage, some even taking their moment slightly too far… “. At the performance we saw one gentleman from the audience augmented his role when he mouthed the words along with the singer of “The Impossible Dream” from “The Man from La Mancha”!  Here is a different show using the audience in a slightly different manner.


Behind the merriment, however, there is message.  The latest statistics show that every week in the UK eighteen pubs are closing which has a detrimental effect on community spirit and increases incidence of loneliness (especially in men). 

In closing, enjoy this last short video ... it will give you a taste of the music and energy of The Choir of Man. 




Sunday, February 24, 2019

Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture

Why do I write a missive?  Sometimes I just have an idea or it is a suggestion, though, the individual may not know it, that sets me off.  In this case, it was my wife falling in love with an invitation that we received in the mail from the Frick Collection in New York.

It was for their exhibition, “Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture”.  The illustration was a portrait of a young woman who has not been identified but you feel you would recognize, if you met in the street.  What is quite incredible is that a work of this quality can still be found in  private collections as are other paintings in the show. Here is the painting of the young woman accompanied by the curators for the exhibition Arturo Galansino, Director of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Aimee Ng,  Associate Curator at the Frick and Simone Facchinetti,  Curator at the Museo Adriano Bernareggi in Bergamo.

Photo credit: Michael Bodycomb

Giovanni Battista Moroni (1520/24 – 1579/80) spent his career in and around his birthplace, Bergamo, Italy, and is known for his portraiture. Most portraitists leave behind a number of self-portraits because they are their easiest subject to practice on.  Yet none by Moroni are known to exist. 

Masters of photography go beyond accurate recording to translate the image that he/she sees in their  mind’s eye into an image that everyone can understand.  How much more difficult to do that in a commissioned portrait painting.  As I have quoted before, Gilbert Stuart, the famed painter of George Washington portraits said, "What a business this of a portrait painter - you bring him a potato and expect he will paint you a peach." 

Moroni is credited with making realistic likenesses but still he must have had to deal with the vanities of his clients, so I am sure blemishes were forgiven and enhancements were added.  For example, in the portrait of Giovanni Gerolamo Grunelli, also known as “Il Cavaliere in Rosa” (sounds better than “The Man in Pink”) from 1560, lent by the Fondazione Museo di Palazzo Moroni in Bergamo, there just happens to be an antiquity on the ground next to the soldier, demonstrating his degree of culture.   As a matter of fact, the antiquity is possibly a prop from the artist’s studio as it can be found in other Moroni portraits such as that of the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria, circa 1551, lent to the exhibition by the Kunsthistorishes Museum, Vienna.

Photo Credit: KHM- Museumsverband

Having worked, as an art dealer in all media, I like it when objects are brought in to reinforce the points being made.  Here, the curators of the exhibition found a 2nd century AD sculpture in the Detroit Institute of Arts that is similar if not the same one, as that in Moroni’s paintings.

Photo Credit: Bridgeman Images

Years ago, I had a 16th century terracotta bust for sale.  A young art historian in the sculpture department of the National Gallery in Washington D.C. requested it for loan and  did extensive research on it. That was Eike Schmidt who has just left the directorship of the Ufizzi in Florence to become director at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.  He dated our terracotta, in part, by calling attention to a painting in the National Gallery in London in similar dress. The painting of “The Tailor” in the current exhibition.  We know the sitter’s profession by the piece of cloth on the table in front of him and the cutting shears in his hand.  A similar pair of 16th century shears from the MAK (Museum für angewandte Kunst, ie The Museum of Applied Arts) is included in the exhibition.

Photo credit: Michael Bodycomb

I have not yet seen the show but the images are so striking that you can interpret the attitudes of the sitters. In “Two Donors in Adoration before the Madonna and Child and St. Michael”, 1557-60, from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, who do you think is the dominant figure?  The gentleman, I fear, has made that quite clear to the artist.

Photo Credit: Katherine Wetzel

In other portraits, such as Lucia Albani Avogadro, called La Dama in Rosso (the Lady in Red), circa 1554-1557 from the National Gallery, London, it is easy to see she would rather be anywhere else.  Her husband probably insisted that she sit for the painting and she is thinking  “When will this be over?”

Photo Credit: The National Gallery, London

My father always praised his home town museum, The Städel in Frankfurt, Germany, saying that it was small but they had a prime example of all the great masters.  In this case, it is a Moroni of, “Lay Brother with a Fictive Frame” ca. 1557.  That quizzical look makes one wonder what had someone just said to him?  Is he thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me?”

Photo Credit: The Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

My Missives depend so often on the good offices of the Public Relations people at the institutions I write about in this case  Heidi Rosenau, Associate Director of Media Relations & Marketing at the Frick. Among the installation shots from the show that she sent to me I discovered that she too had posed with the young woman on the invitation.

Photo Credit: Michael Bodycomb

The Moroni  show opened just last week and will close on June 2nd.  Meanwhile, you have time to look and come up with your own thoughts on why the sitters appear as they do and what it says about the artist wanted to convey about them.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Mexico City

On day eight of our trip we traveled from Malinalko to our last stop, Mexico City. Our bus took us directly to the home of Luis Ramiro Barragán (1902-1988) the renowned Mexican Modernist architect.  Unfortunately, one had to take the guided tour, which so often defeats its own goals.  We were fed the party line like, “the architect knew how to create wonderful corners.”  Some rooms had reproductions of famous artists’ works which we were told were original to the house.  It seemed strange for an architect who was successful at a time when works by artists such as Rouault were not that expensive. For reasons I cannot explain they put in special exhibitions.  Only the curator would be able to explain the choices of these large and intrusive works by local artists inserted in the rooms. If the house had been kept clean without clutter as it must have meant to be one could have better appreciated the innovative architect who had built it.

Mexicans have their main meal at lunch, so again we were taken to  a well-known restaurant, for a pre-ordered multi-course menu.  I guess some people travel to eat but these heavy lunches, for me, made the rest of the day more difficult as we did not take the traditional siesta.   Instead we continued on our own to the museum built around the incredible Diego Rivera mural “Sunday in the Alameda Park”, where he depicted himself as a child surrounded by figures from Mexican history. We had seen before, but it was certainly worth another visit.  Below another detail from the mural.


We had also been to the Franz Mayer museum the year before but went with the group the next day. The masterpiece of this remarkable decorative arts collection is the great biombo (screen) showing the Conquest of Mexico by the Spanish on the recto and Mexico City (not shown) on the verso.


On our second day in the capital we started out at the Cathedral with an additional guide who is one of the foremost historians in the field, Dr. Clara Bargellini.  Unfortunately, there was a Mass, so we could not see the high altar or visit the sacristy.  We had also seen these on our last trip, but I would have thought they would have known that it was open every day, for certain hours, only  in the afternoon.  The good news was that Dr. Bargellini and one of our group Donna Pierce Smith, scholar and long-time curator at the Denver Museum, took us instead to some churches we would not have otherwise seen.  In Santo Domingo we got into the sacristy where there is a major work by Christóbal de Villalpando, an artist I wrote of in  my last Missive.   The extremely large painting is placed in such a small space to that I can only show you a detail.


We went on to The Church of the Lady of the Pillar, an 18th century convent church, fascinating, in that the nuns had to worship  behind screens.  Here is an image of the Church interior with its main altar. Above the side altars  you can see the screens that shielded the nuns from view.


Our 10th day of the trip was occupied by an excursion to Xochimilco,  a one-hour bus ride (1 ½ hours on the way back as Mexico City traffic makes L.A. seem empty). At the lake which is all that remains of the water that surrounded the Aztec city, we boarded a narrow barge propelled by a strong boatman steering from the rear.  There was a table with guacamole, chips and other foods down the center of the boat. We were lead beyond the tourist area by  an entrepreneurial farmer who is renewing  the traditions on the  islands formed for the agriculture that fed Mexico City.  We debarked briefly to see some of his plantings.  On the way back on the lake we passed a Mariachi band, past its prime, that wished to come along side to serenade us and be compensated for their labor, but we declined.






The next day after a visit to  the National Museum of Art  with the group we  broke away to see an exhibition of the Mexican photographer, Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942) held on two floors of the Banamex Culture Palace. One of her teachers at university was Manuel Álvarez Bravo and she even traveled with him for a year.  She is an unbelievably versatile artist. I think that her photographs of people are her strongest suit but her still life images  also capture unexpected slices of life, like the string of dead pheasants tied to a bike leaning against a wall.  When we returned home, we saw that “The Week” magazine had published as its Exhibit of the Week a “Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico” which is on view on at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  In its review The New York Times published her photo of “Our Lady of the Iguanas” which I am showing here, as well as my favorite photo depicting three women which was also in the Banamex show.



The last stop on our culture tour of Mexico City was the famous National Museum of Anthropology. I had not been here before and was eager to go after  our visit to the Amparo Museum’s Pre-Columbian collection in Puebla (which I wrote about last week).  It is so large that I would advise several visits. The exhibits are divided into sections according to the cultures in different parts of the country and there are many monumental show stopping objects.  A theme that seemed to be repeated in different periods was the Acrobat.  The one illustrated is a vase from Tlatilco, Mexico from the period called Middle Preclassic (2500-250 BCE).   Whatever you think of taking archeological objects from their original sites you have to be impressed with the material they have assembled under one roof in this museum.

Let us just end on a farewell note with an evening view from the air.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Plethora of Doctors & Scholars

We have been on a quest for the last three years to learn more about Mexico.  2 years ago I wrote about the Yucatán and Chiapas.  Last year it was an intensive on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. This time we are off on a group tour to Puebla,  Malinalco, and Mexico City.  On this tour there is an Audiologist, a Neurologist, a neck and head Surgeon  and an Oncologist.  The latter, is clearly also a scholar of Pre-Columbian art.  The rest of the scholarly side, includes a museum director, curator, tour organizer, and 2 retired curators with great art historical knowledge and then the rest of us!  We were 24 in total.

Traveling in a group on a bus requires a great deal of organization such as getting the right bags on the bus and to the rooms at the next destination.  The image below is much of our luggage ready to go on our bus.  The organizer is Rosa Carlson of Journey’s International who has arranged trips for the Denver Art Museum and the Spanish Colonial Museum plus a number of other groups and individuals during the past 30 years.


Our first stop was in Puebla, a surprisingly large city whose sprawl reminded me a bit of London but that is where the comparison ends.  As is so often the case a major site was the incredible Cathedral in the center of town completed in 1649. They did not allow photography even though it is a major tourist site where there is an incredible hustle and bustle all day long.  For me, the major attraction was the central cupola painted by Cristobal Villalpando (? – 1714).  I could not resist taking a photo and the big light in the center is daylight.

Across the street from the Cathedral was an amazing Historical Library dating from 1772.   To my surprise scholars are still allowed to use the original old books and are not forced to use microfiche or the modern equivalent.  Here is an image of the engraving plate possibly from the date of founding and it has not changed.  Then my image today.


The Baroque Museum in Puebla had a few serious pieces but much of it was pure propaganda including copies of  famous sculptures from various museums around the world.  The Governor who visited regularly made suggestions along the way with a serious interest in getting this town on the map.  There was one very important exception.  There was an exhibition of works by the above mentioned Villalpando, which in my estimation brought this experience from a C+ to an A+!  Here are 2 of my favorites.  “The Virgin of the Apocalypse and St. Michael, Archangel” and “The Deluge”.  I hope these images can convey some of the innovation that this artist realized.


On our bus tours it was incredible to see the live volcano belching smoke as we drove past.  We understand that the people living close to it hear it as well.  It does not sound relaxing to me! We visited some archeological sites but they were above my walking abilities, one that I am sorry I missed had these incredible murals.  I did see some of the vivid reproductions in the on site museum and the originals were far more faded but here is one of the images that my wife took of the personage who chose those who would be sacrificed.


I have seen pre-Columbian objects in museums before but never as many and as different as we did at the Museo Amparo, it was one of the first times I could get excited about this field and wanted to learn more.  At the beginning of the installation was a large Mayan work dating from 600-900 A.D.  It was a backrest for a throne with a sovereign, courtesan and a deity in the center.  A sculpture which truly surprised me was a voluptuous woman, obviously a symbol of fertility, who, to accentuate the point, was anatomically correct under her skirt as well.  You might have to enlarge the detail but the idea itself is quite amazing considering it was made over 2,000 years ago on the west coast of Mexico in Galisco.


I am so in awe of this work that I cannot resist one more.  A head with 2 faces which though it is quite different makes me think of the North West Coast Native American transformation masks. It is, however, the god of spring and therefore a young face (or two!) from the Gulf coast of Vera Cruz.


Malinalko did not work out so well since the 16th century Augustinian Monastery  with monochromatic frescoes done by indigenous artists  was closed due to earthquake damage but they did open one doorway for us.  The local museum was also closed because of a holiday but our leader phoned the director and managed to get them to open just for our group!  Here an image of the monastery and part of one of the Frescos.


Now on to Mexico City…

Sunday, February 3, 2019

“The Grand Gallery” Revisited

From October 19, 1974 to January 5, 1975 something unheard-of occurred at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  Art dealers had an exhibition with works of art that were actually on the market … but nothing was for sale. The show was called “The Grand Gallery”.

La Confédération Internationale des Négotiants en Oeuvres d’Art (the international Confederation of Dealers in Works of Art, C.I.N.O.A., for short consisted at that time of about 3,000 dealers from 12 countries represented by 15 art associations.  C.I.N. O.A. had done exhibitions in museums before, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and the Americans wanted one closer to home. 

It is a long story but, in the end, by instruction from the director of the Museum, Thomas Hoving, I became the sole representative of the art dealers and Penelope Hunter, who would eventually become my wife, became the representative for the Metropolitan.  She had to take each work of art submitted by the individual dealers to the curator in charge of that area to have it vetted for authenticity.  Obviously, the dealers wanted to put their best foot forward and I do not remember anything in the end being rejected.

Still there was criticism of having dealers exhibit at the museum and it was assumed the works exhibited were not of museum quality.  In order to cover their bets the Met inserted a small exhibition of works acquired through the gallery of the late Ernest and Joseph Brummer. We joked that they were saying “Tthe only good dealer is a dead dealer”.  During the last four plus decades I have seen more and more of the works of art in The Grand Gallery exhibition acquired by museums and I thought it would be fun to research some of these pieces.

I will start with a work of art that ended up in the permanent collection at the Met.  It is a bronze by the Renaissance artist Giovanni Francesco Susini.  His Sleeping Hermaphrodite dated 1639 was presented in The Grand Gallery by the London dealer, William Redford.  He sold it to the philanthropist Claus von Bulow who gave it, together with his wife, to the Met in 1977.  I wonder if the Met curator of European sculpture had her eye on it when it was exhibited in the C.I.N.O.A. show.


I am proud to say that the three  works of art submitted to the exhibition by my gallery, Rosenberg & Stiebel, have all ended up in museums.  I will just mention one here.  It is a Astronomical Longcase clock with a armillary sphere on top.  It was attributed to the master cabinet maker Jean-Pierre Latz and was created circa 1745.  The provenance of Baron Gustave de Rothschild is a nice touch as well.  Though it did not have all its original works as serious clock collectors want,  this was purchased from us  for the cabinetry and gilt bronzes of its case by the J. Paul Getty Museum.


One of the foremost French artists from the end of the eighteenth century is Marie Louise Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun.  Galerie Heim in Paris lent her Portrait of Prince Henry Lubomirski as a Genius of Fame, 1789.  As art history progresses it is now known as , “Prince Henryk Lubomirski as Love of Glory”.  When it was exhibited again at the Met in a monographic show of the artist, “The Grand Gallery” had been dropped from its exhibition history, conveniently forgotten in the prejudice against art dealers.


Hirschl & Adler, dealers well known for their American historical art lent a wonderful still-life called “After the Hunt”.  It is signed WM Harnett Munchen, 1883.  Harnett was born in Ireland in 1848 but his parents soon moved to the States and he became a U.S. citizen in 1868.  From 1881 until early 1885 he lived in Munich where he painted this still life.  After having passed through private collection(s) it has found its way into the Huntington Library in Pasadena.


I am going to end with a painting that has not gone to a museum.  Andrea Mantegna’s “Christ’s Descent into Limbo” from 1492.  When this painting arrived in this country for the exhibition from the firm of P.& D. Colnaghi of London, it was quite the sensation since it had a declared value of over one million dollars.  In 1974 this was  a very high value particularly for a work that was actually on the market.  Later it went into the private collection of Barbara Piasecka Johnson, who was from Poland where she had studied art history and then married Seward Johnson one of the founders of Johnson & Johnson.  She lent the Mantegna to the Frick Collection from 2000 to 2002 with the hope that they would buy it. When they did not, it was put up for auction in London where it brought £17,600 million over 28 million dollars, going to an unidentified purchaser..   There had been speculation that the painting had been cut down and just last year the curator Giovanni Valagussa from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Italy discovered that a painting formerly attributed to the school of Mantegna was the missing part. The two were recently shown together at the National Gallery, London.


There were over 300 works of art in “The Grand Gallery” in many media from Europe, America, China and Africa .  It would be fun to trace more of them and maybe I will.  For now, the catalog is still available on line for those who wish to do their own sleuthing.