As an eighteen year old, I spent whole days there… and I still do, whenever I am in the city.
The Wrightsman Galleries.
The “Sevres Room” was really pretty with all the exquisite Martin Carlin furniture with the insets of Sevres porcelain plaques. I seriously wondered why the French could so easily produce such elegant polychromed paneled walls when Filipinos, executing the same thing, would come up with an atrocious Christmas confection???
I loved the classically mid 18th century “Varengeville Room.” It was a room where you could easily imagine Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, the Marquise de Pompadour, with her coterie. She was the the Great Love of Louis XV.
Suddenly, I remembered what I had read about Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy referring to Louis XV furniture as “Louie Cans.” *laughs*
The beautiful portrait “Antoine Lavoisier and his wife” by Jacques Louis David.
At that time, I didn’t know of very rich oilman Charles Wrightsman and his scholarly wife Jayne Larkin Wrightsman and their fabled collections of French 18th century “tout le Louis.” And their magnificent Stephane Boudin-decorated mansion on # 05 North Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach. And their fabulous New Year’s Eve parties for the Kennedy Inner Circle with their usual dinner fare of “a pound of caviar, cold pompano salad, and quail on toast…” [ Sally Bedell-Smith, "Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House" ] Also the times when precious French 18th century furniture was destroyed when the Kennedys played “touch football” in the Wrightsmans’ grand salon hung with magnificent Chinese 18th century Kangxi wallpaper. That legendary manse was onced owned by the Wall Street magnate Harrison Williams and his fantastically gorgeous wife Mona Strader Schlesinger Bush Williams and decorated by Syrie Maugham.
All I thought at that time was that Mr. and Mrs. Wrightsman owned some very, very, very beautiful things…
The Linsky Galleries.
Lots and lots of gorgeous 18th century Meissen porcelain!!!
At that time, I didn’t know of Jack and Belle Linsky.
All I thought was that Mr. and Mrs. Linsky had some really pretty small things!!!
The Arthur Sackler Pavilion. The “Temple of Dendur.”
I thought that the “Temple of Dendur” would be a monumental affair like “Abu Simbel”… but it was a small temple — and I mean s-m-a-l-l — ringed by palms elevated on a platform. Call me uneducated, call me uncultured, but it actually looked like Fred and Wilma Flintstone’s house in suburban Bedrock… !!!
The Robert Lehmann Wing.
Propped up on a big easel by the entrance to the Lehmann Wing was Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ gorgeously haunting “Princesse de Broglie.”
I have a thing for Ingres’ portraits, specially the women.
So I stood spellbound for minutes, probably half an hour, before the “Princesse de Broglie,” unconsciously imitating her pose, unmindful of the stares and snickers of the passing crowd at this Asian boy who was so struck by the long-dead lady in blue silk…
The Costume Institute.
The very chic “Man and the Horse” Exhibit.
I couldn’t believe my eyes… she was actually there… THE Diana Vreeland!!!
But where else in New York did you expect me to be???