Sunday, February 6, 2011

That Was The Week That Was

This is positively the last Missive on Old Master Week in New York for the next year!

To get the question everyone will automatically ask out of the way, “How did you do”. . Of course, what every dealer says after a less than perfect fair: “ah, but the connections I made” or “lots of good people came through”. These have become trite and easily dismissed but they are very important pieces of our business, because people do come back or think of you or start looking at your website. … For this year’s Master Drawings the weather cut down attendance dramatically until the temporary thaw of the final day. There were some sales and more are pending. We hope for a repeat of last year when most of the sales came through after the week ended.

What else was going on?

As mentioned before, there were many social events during the week. Sotheby’s gave a dinner in honor of Emilie Gordenker, director of the Mauritshuis (the Dutch Royal Cabinet of Paintings) in The Hague. Christies did a dinner in honor of the distinguished drawings collector, George Abrams and The Master Drawings Association gave a dinner in honor of Pierre Rosenberg, the renowned French scholar and former director of the Louvre.

We attended the dinner in honor of Dr. Gordenker. This was one of a series of dinners that Sotheby’s has done honoring different museums, clearly a mutually beneficial association. It was a very nice affair held in the 10th floor galleries of the auction house where works from the upcoming Old Masters sales were on view.

At our table there were members of the trade, several collectors and a department head from Sothebys. It was an equitable mix. The menu offered a meal I have never had at a formal dinner before, chicken pot pie! It was actually quite good.

With desert and coffee there were the usual number of talks: George Gordon spoke for Sotheby’s; Otto Nauman spoke as one of the founders of the American Friends of the Mauritshuis; and last but not least was the guest of honor.

Dr. Gordenker spoke about the expansion plans for the Mauritshuis. The problem is, that what most museums crave, a larger audience, causes its own issues. The best known museum expansion addressing the problem is the Pyramid at the Louvre built by I.M. Pei. While the Pyramid is quite striking, after one gets used to the glass structure in between the buildings of the venerable Palace, I, for one, will never get used to the Grand Central train station reception hall through which all visitors are funneled.

The Mauritshuis is also planning to have a below ground entry and reception area. The public will then be allowed to enter through the gates to the original entry court yard. From what I could decipher on the plans, given to all the dinner guests, it seems to be quite in keeping with the aesthetic of the 17th century house; the new spaces here and in the newly acquired building across the way appear modest and functional.

If you would like to learn more about the Maurithuis and its plans I would suggest getting in touch with the present head of the Friends of the Mauritshuis, Mireille Mosler (

It was a very busy and hectic week that all felt was worthwhile, but we can all certainly use a break before the next go round!

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