(click photos to enlarge)
Andy’s old friend and colleague Danielle Oteri, an art historian who works at the Cloisters, has her own company, Feast on History, which offers walking tours of historical New York combined with eating and sometimes drinking (libations curated by her husband, Christian Galliani, of Wineforthe99.com). We took her up on this intriguing expedition that started in Washington Heights at the Rusty Mackerel. We had a yummy brunch while Danielle told us about the book that has inspired a series of walks, early 20th century newspaper reporter Helen Worden’s Round Manhattan’s Rim.
Our first stop took us to the site of Castle Paterno, built in 1909 by real estate developer Charles Paterno, who in 1939 tore it down and built the Castle Village apartment complex. There are a few traces of the original place, including a couple of marble stancheons on Cabrini Boulevard between 181st and 186th Streets.
Then we jumped on the bus and went down to 155th and Broadway, where John James Audobon once had a mansion and surrounding park known as Minnesland. Demolished in 1931, the mansion gave way to the complex of art museums known as Audobon Terrace, whose best-known tenant might be the American Academy of Arts and Letters, whose Beaux Art facade bears the engraved legend “All Passes Art Alone Untiring Stays On Us.”
Other tenants formerly included the Museum of American Indian (now relocated downtown), the American Numismatic Society, and the American Geographic Society. The one remaining thriving institution is the Hispanic Society of America, founded by philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington in 1904. Danielle considers this museum to be one of the most overlooked treasures in New York City.
The nine statues out front, including this imposing depiction of El Cid, were created by Huntington’s wife Anna Hyatt Huntington.
The museum resembles the Frick, in that it houses a private collection amassed by a wealthy individual with particular, discerning taste. It includes some major paintings by major artists, such as this portrait of St. Jerome by El Greco.
Goya’s famous portrait of the widow and legendary beauty Duchess of Alba is a centerpiece of the collection.
There’s also Antonis Mor’s portrait of the Duke of Alba, which explains why the Dutchess was so distraught after his death.
Among the many household, funerary, and decorative items on display are a couple of the few extant mosaic paintings known as enconchados — I very much liked this one, created by an unknown artist in Cuzco, Peru, around 1750
But the most dazzling room in the museum is dedicated to 14 paintings commissioned by Huntington from Joaquin Sorolla y Bastido depicting his Vision of Spain.
These paintings are extraordinary. My favorite was this one of dancers in Seville.