Thursday, December 18, 2008

Frick and Friends

I know, I have about 3 memes to catch up with in the next few days!  :)

At the beginning of the week, it rained, which turned to sleet, which turned to wet snow.  
It stuck a little bit.

It would not have been nice if the wet roads had frozen, but at the most it settled, became slushy.  By Wednesday all was reduced to a falling mist which obscured the tops of buildings.  On Thursday, the sun was laser bright.

But today there was a snowstorm that had the city scrambling to salt the roads.  Like clockwork, half the neighborhood was out shoveling driveways and scraping the sidewalks because the snow turned to sleet which is fast becoming freezing rain as darkness falls.  Ooh, I think I just saw some winter lightning, yep, and there's the thunder.


Thursday, the day of falling mist, I went into town to meet fellow blogger Rick (oh
he of Palm Springs fame) for breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria, which is the done thing, like tea at the Ritz.

A couple of jetsetters are we, to meet twice in the same year in two different world cities.  I enjoy this tradition and hope it continues.

Eggs Benedict seems to be the dish of choice for breakfast, but as I was not very hungry I had a bagel instead and now regret that decision because I am not likely to go back anytime soon.

The Waldorf-Astoria is one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen.  Like the city of New York, it is full of Art Deco detail (the present incarnation of the W-A having been opened in 1931), so much that my eyes were overwhelmed and I would have taken photos of the corners of everything if I hadn't felt so self conscious about it.

The Waldorf-Astoria looms over St Bartholomew's 

So I made do with a quick shot of one of the elevator doors

...And a view of the Park Avenue (exterior) lobby.  The Main (interior) lobby was more like the heart:  darker and warmer, with an ezquisite central clock flanked by the Peacock Alley restaurant.

After breakfast, I wandered into St Bartholomew's for the midday Holy Eucharist but left before it started because the only people in there were two Polish women gossiping behind me, a businessman who went to the front to pray for a few minutes, and the permanent fixtures, a handful of snoring bums installed at the ends of the pews.  I suppose it would have been unchristian of the ladies at reception to turn them away.
Feeling unusually discouraged by the quietness I skipped the free Baroque Christmas concert too and re-emerged into the light of day to start my trek uptown.

This is when I like New York City - along the great Avenues - when I have my great impressionistic moments.  Looks like I'm more of a city girl than I'd thought.


I had told Rick I might visit the Frick Collection, and I was true to my word.  I walked 20 blocks uptown on Park Avenue and then cut across to Fifth, which took about half an hour and soon found myself at this neat little mansion/museum, former home of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick (protege of Andrew Carnegie).

Of all sources outside the collection's website, my longtime subscription The New York Social Diary has perhaps the best pictures of the interior along with a great deal of enlightening social column-style gossip on Mr Frick and his circle.

The Frick is one of the best private collections in America, containing lots of Renaissance bronze sculptures, a few pieces bequeathed by his contemporary John D Rockefeller, a number of Old Masters and medieval Italian panels, some works by Vermeer, Constable, and others I recognized as in:  "Oh, wow! I didn't know this was here."

I also greatly appreciated the small jewel-like Boucher Room (see NYSD), like a tiny and perfect ballroom: candy-toned Boucher wall panels and little Louis XV mechanical tables, complete with 17th century creaking parquet floor shipped from France.

Frick was not a great fan of James McNeill Whistler, yet these musically-themed pieces were perhaps my favorite pieces in the collection.  On a musical theme, L to R:

1 - Harmony in Pink and Grey:  Portrait of Lady Meux, 1881-82
2 - Arrangement in Brown and Black:  Portrait of Miss Rosa Corder, 1876-78
3 - Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink:  Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland, 1872-73
4 - Arrangement in Black and Gold:  Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac, 1891-92

Mr Frick's collection perfectly mirrors his simple personal tastes.  There is little violence, mostly serenity.  According to the video presentation in the Music Room, after a particularly harrowing day, Mr Frick might stroll through the darkened halls to his Gallery, turn on the light, and sit for an hour or more on one couch and then another, absorbing beauty into his soul.


meimei said...

oh, I would love to see the Frick house, and the W-A Hotel sounds amazing.

Have a good holiday sweetie

Christopher said...

Lunch at the Waldorf? What next, cocktails at the Russian Tea Room? Livvie, you're movin' on up! Don't forget us little folks when you become famous :):):)

Planethalder said...

Your neighbourhood (or should that be neighborhood) looks so lovely.

AmitL said...

Hi,Olivia...was a mite tied up lately..but,no excuses.:)
grt to see this post..the W-A sounds like a lively hotel.:)
And,wow-the pic of the snowstorm was tremendous..must've been Some experience.
Let me read below now to see what I've missed reading the last few days.:)TC.

CafeMark said...

Wow - looks like you're living your life in colour, while us poor people back in the UK live in black and white. Keep your posts coming! If I don't have chance to post before then, have yourself a very Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Flighty said...

As you know I love this kind of post with its terrific photos and interesting links.
I like art deco which reflects in my aviation interests for that period and Agatha Christie's Poirot.

Carol said...

as always, great photos and descriptions. we hope to visit NYC in the spring, so will have to get the "must see" list from you :) I'm afraid the must see list is going to be longer than our time there, even just the things we can think of seem never-ending...

Palm Springs Savant said...

Olivia- it was so nice to see you, and yes the Waldorf Astoria is SUCH a fantastic hotel. It makes me feel good just being there. THANK YOU for making the long journey into the city, I do appreciate it!


The Moody Minstrel said...

Lunch at the Waldorf-Astoria...
And you wanted me to stop calling you "m'lady"?

That's one of those places I'd have trouble convincing myself to go into simply because I'd probably wind up embarrassing myself.


(Though I have performed at the Shinjuku Hilton twice.)

Selba said...

Oh... wow... nice pics...

and livie... you look so lovely in the pic :)

junius worth said...

If only I had couches in a gallery...

And Liv! You only got a bagel at the Waldorf-Astoria!!! Even Dave was astonished!

Glad you found some beauty in your city!

Olivia said...

Mich - you too sweetie, hope you're better by then.


Kissy - you mean, moving back on up, and I still knew you then. Hehe, no you guys are ace!


Planet - thank you. It is typical of the more established parts of Brooklyn, in fact my roomie says it looks like Long Island. Meaning, too suburban for Manhattanites :)


Amit - good to see you back. It is indeed a lively hotel, as the lobby fills up with people waiting to go to the top for city views. Since tourists have many other options such as Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building, I think such a lovely hotel ought to restrict their viewing deck to guests.


Cafe - you can't be serious? Although the weather is so grey....

You have a happy Christmas also.


Flighty - yes, have you seen the episode where Poirot and Hastings pursue some thief through that aerodrome, which I have passed on the way to my aunt in Gorham.


Rick - my pleasure as usual. I'm glad the place made you happy, as you more than deserve a lift after your past couple of weeks.


Minstrel - you may kiss my feet, loyal subject!


Selby - ah, thank you :)


Junius - Jo? Why are you commenting as Dave? I had forgotten he has a blog, so I shall try to add it.

I know, silly me indeed for having a blasted bagel...

There is much beauty in this city, that I cannot deny.

nikkipolani said...

Wow, you got MM kissing your feet? I'm sure I left a comment here, but it seems to have evaporated in the wisdom that is blogger. The Frick sounds lovely, full of the images that make you smile. Serenity indeed.

Olivia said...

Nikki - I am so used to your comments that I thought you had too! :)

Jo said...

Ha! I didn't realize that I was still logged in as Dave! I've been re-tooling his blog, as you can see from the neat header!

Tea N. Crumpet said...

I love the portrait of Lady Meux! I corset and one of my sons immediately saw the similarity!

Is there anything better in life than breakfast with Rick? I have not yet done so but I hope to be able to have the same great thing happen!

Your Christmas tree reminds me of mine, a casualty of either the kids or the 2 cats, Josie and Mitten. The kids swear it was them, but they cannot talk.

steve said...

Just linked over from Tea N. Crumpet. Beautiful photos. But Henry Clay Frick, even if he didn't like violence in his artwork, had his Pinkerton men attack the Homestead Steel strikers. They killed nine strikers and a few others. According to Wikipedia, he was known as "the most hated man in America."

The Whistlers are gorgeous. I'd go to the Frick if I had a chance, since he's long dead and I wouldn't be supporting his atrocities. But it's still a good idea to remember how Frick got the money to buy all that beauty.

beginninghere said...

Love the idea of breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria. So now you will remember to order something special on your next visit :) The snowy scenes are fun to look at but I am glad not to be shoveling snow. In the lowlands we just have to prune roses. The Frick sounds very beautiful and a great place to explore. Glad you got to see it.