Blog Number One - February 1, 2020
These are a few of my favorite things - A visit to the Met and American Wing during the holidays
I was recently in New York and visited one of my favorite places which holds some of my favorite things. It seems the Metropolitan Museum of Art has always been a part of my life. My earliest memory of it was visiting with my Mother at Christmas time. The beautiful tree of Neapolitan Baroque figures and creche are still there of course. I remember how much my Mother loved it, and visiting it again with my children brought tears to my eyes. There is just something about the holidays, isn’t there. We become more sentimental, more fragile. Everything seems more intense - even beauty. Our senses are hyper engaged, we are open to experience things deeply. So it was that day with my daughter and son. Even in the crush of holiday visitors, there was something soothing in the visit that day and I guess it was familiarity. If you are like me, you probably find visiting your favorite places and favorite things soothing - kind of like a hug from an old friend.
Whenever I visit the Met, I like to go to the American Wing to see some of my favorite paintings. I connect with these paintings for many reasons. As with any painting I find beautiful, I look at the color, light, shadows, and composition, but in the American Wing I also especially embrace the subject matter. There are many connections: places in New England where I have lived or visited like Gloucester, Mass, and Maine, artists who had studios near a place I spent Summers - William Merritt Chase and Shinnecock Hills, and artists with connections to my artists at the gallery. That’s the connection I want to tell you a little about now. I love the paintings of children and of domestic interiors, and I also love to step back in time to when people found joy and beauty in simple pleasures and tasks, or at least that’s the way I like to interpret them. In today’s world we are so busy rushing on to what’s next, that we sometimes forget to celebrate today. Taking time to indulge in life’s small ceremonies can be so joyful. On this day, not only was I able to visit these beautiful “old friend” paintings, but to partake in the joy of tea! Tea and the American Wing - what could be better?
Now to that artist connection I mentioned - this painting entitled Tea Leaves is by late nineteenth century, early twentieth century American painter William McGregor Paxton. If you don’t know of him, please treat yourself and take a look at his extraordinary work. You will no doubt make some comparisons to Sargent and Vermeer. I originally learned about him around forty years ago when I met two artists who I now represent at the gallery. William McGregor Paxton who was a younger colleague of Edmund Tarbell and Frank Benson, became a prominent member of the Boston School of painting and one of the era’s most popular portraitists. He also was a teacher to R H Ives Gammell (author of The Twilight of Painting) and in turn Gammell was the teacher and mentor of my artists David Lowrey and Ernest Principato who studied at the historic Fenway Studios. I have to tell you that when I stand gazing at Tea Leaves at the Met, I always get a secret thrill to know that by carrying the work of Lowrey and Principato, I am in some way doing my part to continue the tradition of this very beautiful, highly skilled, traditional form of art.
I have also included a photo of an oil painting that David Lowrey did of my daughter Karalyn which is very much in the tradition of the Boston School. This painting is among my favorite possessions. I love the subject, I love the painter, I love the beauty and I love the history. I can trace a lineage of painters and mentors back to a painting by William McGregor Paxton - whose work lives at the Met. It is so satisfying and so exciting.
I am including some photos of just a few of my favorite paintings in the American Wing and of my special day at the museum with my daughter Karalyn and my son Christopher - the joys of my life. Do take the time to visit your favorite things and if you can, do it with your favorite people.
Visiting the tree at the Met.
Tea Leaves, oil by William McGregor Paxton
Tea at the Met with Christopher and Karalyn - such a pleasure.
The Church at Gloucester, oil by Childe Hassam
Ernesta (Child with Nurse), oil by Cecilia Beaux
Celia Thaxter's Garden, Isles of Shoals, Maine, oil by Childe Hassam
At the Seaside, oil by William Merritt Chase
Eighteenth century Neapolitan figures
In this and upcoming blogs, I hope to share my love of the arts and art history by recording thoughts and photos from my personal experiences and memories. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired. There is so much out there for us to embrace and be inspired by. Savor Life! And remember, "Living with Fine Art enriches your Life."
Karalyn, oil by David Lowrey - a portrait in the Boston tradition