An August Sunday in New York


We had a grand time today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, exchanging corrective glances during a walking lecture on the arts, fine and decorative alike, of Eighteenth-Century France. Our leader’s art was sound, but his grasp of history was more blather and invention that we found digestible. The most egregious sins: Watteau was not of the same generation as Boucher and Fragonard (Watteau died some time before Fragonard was born); Louis XV did not return the court to the Louvre; and Mme de Pompadour did not inspire the invention of upholstery. Also, the French Academy of art (l’Académie de France à Rome) was never situated in Paris. It still isn’t.

LXIV was particularly exercised by the notion, broadcast by the curator, that André-Charles Boulle caught the attention of the Sun King by hauling his commodes out onto the Rue St-Antoine on days when the king was riding out to Vincennes.

Fossil Darling, in contrast, claimed to be entranced by the experience. But don’t worry; justice triumphed. He was made to pay half of my martini bill at lunch at the Trustees’ Dining Room afterward. Where I made up a wonderful word – it just came to me – in connection with a failed financier: lootocrat. “It just came to me.”

Then we went to see the pots, pictured above.  Aren’t they amazing? These Qing beauties have not been on view for a while, yet they are without a doubt objects that the Museum should never, ever, put in storage. Whoever made them climbed the Mount Everest of garish bad taste – and then declined to jump.