The Frick Museum’s Autumn Dinner is held in what some believe is most gorgeous setting in New York–the Frick Museum! (We gave a sneak preview of the gala last month). The New York Times has called this annual gathering “one one of the “most memorable parties of the year.” The event is the only sit-down dinner that takes place in the museum’s extraordinary picture galleries, whose walls are filled with masterpieces dating from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century. This year the sold-out event drew top names from New York society and business, including Carolina Herrera, William Ivey Long, Wes Gordon and Fred Koch. The evening’s honoree was award-winning artist and writer Edmund de Waal, author of the acclaimed memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes. Each year, the dinner raises more than $1,000,00 to support the museum’s full range of programs, including educational and curatorial initiatives, and the Frick Art Reference Library.
Guests included Henry Arnhold, Jody and John Arnhold, Julia Arnhold, Paul Arnhold and Wes Gordon, Seymour R. Askin Jr., Allison Aston and Sherrell Aston Jr., Peter Blanchard, Cynthia Boardman, Margot and Jerry Bogert, Emerson Bowyer, Ayesha Bulchandani, Rika Burnham, Stephen Bury, Edward Lee Cave, Helen Clay Chace, Tia Chapman, Tai-Heng Cheng and Cole Harrell, Judy and Kim Davis, Edith and Philippe de Montebello, Elisabeth de Picciotto, Edmund de Waal, Alessandra di Castro, Barbara and Brad Evans, Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard, Barbara and Meyer Feldberg, Martin and Kate Feldstein, Barbara Fleischman, Rochelle Fredston, Marina Kellen French, Joanne du Pont Foster, Lord Norman Foster and Lady Elena Foster, Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II, Susan Galassi, David Goldman, Patrick Henning, Carolina Herrera, Jane and Michael Horvitz, Sidney R. Knafel and Londa Weisman, Frederick Koch, Alexis Kugel, Nicolas Kugel, Lucy Jane Lang, Patricia Lansing, Sally and Howard Lepow, William Ivey Long, Alison Lonshein, Amory and Sean McAndrew, David Pollack, Alexandra C. Porter, Alfredo Reyes, Barbara and John R. Robinson, Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Royce, Nathan Saint-Amand, Xavier F. Salomon, Mark Schaffer, Arlene Shechet, Karen Sonneborn, Melinda Martin Sullivan and Paul R.C. Sullivan, Aso. O. Tavitian and Isabella Meisinger, Elaine and Donald Textor, Dino Tomasso, Raffaello Tomasso, Marco Voena, Lisa and Jeff Volling, Fern Wachter, Ian Wardropper and Sarah McNear, Samuel Wittwer, Andrea Woodner, Jennifer Wright among others.
Everyone enjoyed a cocktail reception in the 1935 neoclassical Garden Court then went on to explore Henry Clay Frick’s former Gilded Age residence, now the core of the museum that houses his remarkable collection. The galleries with their splendid domestic settings reminiscent of European noble houses contain masterpieces by artists such as Bellini, Fragonard, Gainsborough, Goya, Holbein, Ingres, Rembrandt, Turner, Velázquez, and Vermeer. The rooms are also filled with rare French eighteenth-century furniture and Italian Renaissance bronzes.
The formal sit-down dinner was held in a series of contiguous, dramatically lit galleries evoking the great society dinners of Gilded Age New York. Banquet tables ran the length of the mansion’s West Gallery, where guests dined among works by Vermeer and Rembrandt. Those seated in the more intimate Oval Room were surrounded by full-length portraits by Whistler. Guests in the East Gallery dined among paintings by Constable, David, Goya, Van Dyck, and others.
Frick Chairman Margot Bogert welcomed everyone from a podium in the West Gallery and thanked guests for their generous support of the Frick and the outpouring of enthusiasm for the evening’s honoree, Edmund de Waal. Following the main course, Frick Director Ian Wardropper toasted Mr. de Waal and spoke of his contributions to the arts through his work as an artist, writer, and collector, and his ability to demonstrate “his passion for art as well as its power to connect us through the centuries.”
After Wardropper presented Mr. de Waal with a commemorative silver tray (from Tiffany & Co.) De Waal took the podium and spoke of his first visit to the Frick as a teenager and the profound effect the collection’s Chardin still-life had on him. He went on to explain that such incredible encounters with art are the beginning of a journey, and the beginning of our collective ownership as viewers of extraordinary objects in collections like the Frick and all over the world. He concluded by saying that as someone “involved” in porcelain, he was happy to see the Frick adding to its important collection through porcelain acquisitions.
As guests departed, they took home Mr. de Waal’s most recent book, The White Road, inside a tote bag from the Frick’s Museum Shop, with decoration inspired by a Sèvres Porcelain plaque that adorns the lower section of a gilt-bronze tripod table purchased by Henry Clay Frick in 1918.
The evening’s vice chairmen, benefactors and patrons included the Arnhold Foundation, Margot and Jerry Bogert, Barbara and Brad Evans, Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard, Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II, Larry Gagosian, Carolina Herrera, Mr. and Mrs. Michael J. Horvitz, Sidney R. Knafel and Londa Weisman, Mr. and Mrs. David M. Leuschen, Mr. and Mrs. Juan A. Sabater, Louisa Stude Sarofim, Aso O.Tavitian, and Elaine and Donald Textor.
The Benefit Committee drew such prominent names as Seymour Askin, Peter and Sofia Blanchard, Ayesha Bulchandani, Leon and Toby Cooperman, Martin and Kathleen Feldstein, Barbara Fleischman, Lucy Flemming-McGrath, Marina Kellen French, Arthur L. Loeb, Mr. and Mrs. William Rayner, Dr. and Mrs. James S. Reibel, Barbara and John R. Robinson, Deborah and Chuck Royce, Mrs. Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Stephen and Christine Schwarzman, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley DeForest Scott, The Selz Foundation, F. Randall and Judith Smith, Michelle Smith, Tiffany & Co., and Barbara and Donald Tober.
Putnam & Putnam created the imaginative autumnal decor, inspired by the colors and gesture of nineteenth-century works of chinoiserie. Incorporated into each arrangement were unusual tropical elements such as banana flowers, lotus pods, and speckled anthurium evocative of the time period, paired with classic autumnal flowers and fruits such as dahlias, persimmons, ranunculus, roses, and pomegranates.