By John Oseid
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) arrives in New York City this week with a small selection of its fine works. Now’s your chance to discover, or get better acquainted with, one of America’s great unsung cultural institutions.
The VMFA will be setting up shop on Park Avenue where every year the celebrated Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory invites notable institutions to showcase highlights from their collections.
The VMFA show’s title may be a mouthful but sums all you need to know on arrival: Collecting for the Commonwealth/Preserving for the Nation: Celebrating a Century of Art Patronage, 1919-2018.
Despite the VMFA’s century of building a major collection, it may come as a surprise to many visitors that it is one of the nation’s largest art museums.
Currently back in Richmond, the VMFA has mounted the blockbuster show Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China which will move to the Cincinnati Art Museum from April 20 through August 12, 2018.
Known for its rich Art Nouveau and Art Deco collections, the VMFA also holds important Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, as well as Asian, African and Ancient art works.
In addition, the museum is the proud holder of five Fabergé Imperial Eggs and 140 jewelry pieces from the 20th century artist Jean Schlumberger.
Among the VMFA’s works coming to the Manhattan Armory show, look out for the lovely 1888 van Gogh oil on canvas called Daisies, Arles.
From van Gogh’s compatriot Kees Van Dongen, Parisian Lady is an elegant 1910 oil on canvas. Both paintings come from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon.
A 1960s Jasmine Necklace by Schlumberger, in 18-karat gold, platinum, and colored sapphires and diamonds, was nicknamed “Breath of Spring” by its owner, Mrs. Paul Mellon.
The temporary VMFA show will also include a stunning 1902 Tiffany & Company Cobweb Lamp designed by Clara Driscoll in leaded glass, bronze, mosaic and glass tiles.
As usual, for the Winter Antique Show’s 64th edition, from January 19-28, some 70 booths and galleries from top antique houses will display everything from simple toys to opulent jewelry.
Among the ten-day show’s other works, a 1939 Giò Ponti (architect of Milan’s brilliant 1958 Pirelli Tower) cabinet in wood, paint and linoleum will be exhibited by the Lobel Modern gallery.
The Macklowe Gallery will share with the public an Art Nouveau opal, pearl, gold and enamel pendant by Georges Fouquet (France, 1900), while reaching way back in time, the London gallery Rupert Wace Ancient Art will show an Egyptian Ptolemaic (300-200 BC) funerary papyrus.
And keep your eyes out for Grandma Moses and her 1950 wintery scene Here Comes Daddy, an oil on pressed-wood work from the Galerie St. Etienne.
In recent years, some of the Winter Antiques Show’s featured museums have included the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg, as well as Hartford, Connecticut’s Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
For its part, the late-19th-century Park Avenue Armory is a work of art in itself. Originally built for the posh members of the Seventh Regiment Armory, its block-long brick building on the Upper East Side is deservedly landmarked.
Rich and elaborate rooms were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White, and other leading designers and architects of the day. Massive recent renovations have included the acclaimed Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron bringing the opulent Veterans Room back to life.
Further Winter Antiques Show Details:
A series of VMFA lectures on decorative and other arts will be conducted by museum curators throughout the show’s run.
Daily show admission is $25, with proceeds going to benefit the East Side House Settlement, a South Bronx community organization that was originally founded in Manhattan in 1891.
Out-of-towners can check into any number of nearby Upper East Side premier hotels, including the legendary Madison Ave Carlyle-A Rosewood Hotel.
Further down on Madison, the towering Lotte New York Palace, with its McKim, Mead, and White-designed Villard Mansion in front, was refurbished two years ago.
Image: In 1888, Vincent van Gogh painted “Daisies, Arles,” an oil on canvas. Credit: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. Photo: Travis Fullerton