Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Frick Collection

Mistress and Maid, 1666-1667 (Zoomable Image )
I am a museum junkie. I spent three glorious weeks in New York City this summer and went to about a dozen different museums. My favorite museum on this trip was the Frick Collection. I visited it three times as various members of my family floated in and out of the city. The museum is in Mr. Frick’s mansion and it houses only the artwork that Mr. Frick himself collected. He had excellent, consistent taste in art which is very well described in the audio tour. In my humble opinion, his collection rivals any museum’s carefully-curated art exhibition. Visiting the museum is a wonderful experience because the mansion is glorious, it is never very crowder there, and the collection is small and very accessible.
I am a huge Johannes Vermeer fan and this museum has three, count them: three!!! I think there are only about 35 known Vermeers in existence. The Frick beautifully displays its three prize possessions side-by-side in the vestibule in front of the staircase. I was familiar with the two smaller ones because they are often seen in print, but the largest one, named Mistress and Maid, I had never seen before.
It is believed to be unfinished, which added to my enjoyment because there was no background to distract from the portraits. It was Frickin’ gorgeous! Breathtaking – literally!
Here are the two smaller paintings:


There was also a fantastic large painting of St. Francis of Assissi by Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430 - 1516) with beautiful colors:


My family and I had the great fortune of going to Assissi in 2005. It was singularly the most inspirational Italian village we ever visited. This painting sent me sailing back to that glorious day we spent there.

The room that housed this painting also had other interesting portrait choices. Frick seemed to enjoy juxtaposing dark and light portraits painted by the same artist in the same room. In this room, he paired dark and light personalities.

In another room he had a pair of very dark full-length portraits by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 - 1903) on one wall:


and on the opposite wall was a pair of very light pastel-colored full-length portraits also by Whistler:


The contrast was powerful. I heard somewhere that Frick was one of the most hated men in NYC in his day. His choices of art probably reflect his complex personality.

If you’re ever in New York City, make some time to visit the Frick Collection.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day


Today I would like to honor the military servicemen who served our great country in the past and those currently fighting for us in the Middle East. Your service continues to protect the constitution that made last week’s election and the promise of a bloodless transition of leadership possible. I thank you, and all others whose lives you touch, from the bottom of my heart!

I actually did remember it was a school holiday today. The last time my son had a school holiday, I forgot and woke him up at 7 a.m. He was not amused. This time he took a precautionary measure:



How well does he know his mother?

Flags at Arlington photo by Adam Skoczylas

Monday, November 10, 2008

White Flower Farm



I got my White Flower Farm catalog this weekend. It reminded me that I have a half-written post lying around from my pre-blog-hiatus days. I’m happy to breathe new life into it now.

While I was driving through Connecticut, I saw a sign for Litchfield. I recognized the name Litchfield from one of my favorite catalogs. The White Flower Farm catalog photos are gorgeous and the plant information is encyclopedic. They sell top-notch plants and their bulbs are world class. White Flower Farm absolutely guarantees their products. My friend Renata told me that she once ordered some plants and received a partial refund because they were not up to their "normal standard of quality". She also had the option to return the plants for a full refund. I’ve never been disappointed with their products.


Since I had a few hours to kill before my next appointment, I typed White Flower Farm into the rental car GPS and sure enough, it popped up. I recognized the farm immediately from the catalog photos. I had just rained so everything was crispy clean and the soil was spongy and fragrant.

I'm crazy for the stone walls that are so prevalent in Connecticut:





Like I said, their bulbs are world class:
















This one is called Tulip clusiana Peppermint Stick:



They always come up with the most amazing colorful flower combinations:





And they also know when to let Mother Nature do her best work:

If you're going to click on any of the photos, choose this one!
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