I’m not entirely sure how many inches of snow have fallen on Monroe, NY since the heavens began sifting down more than six hours ago. My husband, brother and I had planned to meet our obligatory one-day-a-year-in-Manhattan prerequisite until the blanket blanco dictated otherwise. Now, while I atone for lost blogging time, Danny and Emilio are taking a break from clearing the driveway. No, my beloved yutzes haven’t come in for a hot beverage, they are flying down the hill in my parents backyard using the shovels for sleds, like the scene in It’s a Wonderful Life. (Fortunately there’s no ice to fall through, thus no hearing to damage.)
Aside from hitting the Ladurée patisserie on Madison Avenue, our sights were fixed my favorite New York museum by far: the Frick on East 70th. In a pas des deux of kismet and pedestrian convenience, the patisserie of Marie Antoinette fame and the museum are located on the same block. (Isn’t it swell when tumblers fall into place like that?) The Frick Collection was my favorite field trip destination when I was a teacher yet ironically it had no gift shop on site. Gift shops are my favorite museum feature, bar none. Originally home to Henry Clay Frick and his wife Adelaide, the museum leads you through living rooms, salons, its collection unfolding as you meander from room to room.
I have three absolute favorite paintings in the permanent collection, one of which is incredibly fitting for a blizzard like today.
Now I’m certain that you, dear readers, are wondering what the heck a museum on the Upper East Side of Manhattan has to do with Marie Antoinette. Ha ha! You forget, I can tie anything together! It’s a blessing and a curse…
François Boucher very much represents the time in which m@ lived. His paintings embodied the spirit of Versailles under the reign of Louis XV and Louis XVI. Boucher’s works are considered to represent the absolute maturity of Rococo art. Many of works are pastoral scenes with lovely, voluptuous shepherdesses. Idyllic, relaxing themes, that return to natural simplicity written about by Rousseau and embraced by Marie Antoinette. Would le Petit Hameau exist without him? (Probably, but it sounded so poetic to speculate like that for a second.)
Furthermore, in an act of nostalgia for her childhood in Vienna, Marie Antoinette introduced sledding and toboggans during her first winter snowfall at Versailles. Like so many of her other acts in her first years as dauphine, many at court were shocked by Marie Antoinette’s foreign behavior, which was taken as a lack of decorum.
Interestingly, Boucher’s Winter was first owned by Madame Pompadour, Louis XV’s first mistress, and Boucher also painted the lovely lady herself multiple times.
How the painting came to the Frick can be summarized as such:
“Winter” was inherited by Pompadour’s brother, the Marquis de Marigny et de Ménars, in 1764. His sale, in February, 1782, Paris, (Lot 11) sold for 1,402 livres to Vernier. Nicolas Beaujon, Paris. His sale, April 25, 1787, Paris, (Lot 202) sold for 884 livres to Ridgway. Madame Ridgway’s sale, December 3, 1904, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, Lots 4, 5, 6, 7, sold for 360,000 francs to Eugène Fischhof. E.R. Bacon, New York. Mrs. Virginia Bacon. Duveen. Frick, 1916.
Source: Art in The Frick Collection: Paintings, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.