Attingham… again? Why yes!

Long-time readers of this blog (all four of you) will be well versed in the trip I took to England in the summer of 2010 to attend the Attingham Trust Summer School.  If you haven’t the faintest idea of what I’m talking about, please click here and here to take a wander down memory lane.

Well, imagine my delight when I learned that Attingham was planning a summer study program right here in the States for the summer of 2012! I got my ducks in a row and applied embarrassingly early for the Hudson Valley program (or ‘programme’ if you’re feeling fancy), a description of which you can read at length here. I found out yesterday that all my various scholarships and grants have been approved, so I am delighted to announce that the Hudson Valley study program[me] is a go!

The itinerary is a good fit for me professionally, as Mrs. Sloane was born and raised in New York. She was exceedingly proud of her upbringing — most particularly that she grew up around the corner from the Metropolitan.

I was reading through some of our files the other day and came across one of my favorite passages about Mrs. Sloane’s childhood in New York, as told by the first registrar of the Hermitage (and Mrs. Sloane’s personal friend), Lela M. Hine. In an oral history taken in 1997, Ms. Hine recalled:

“There are a few things about the Sloanes that I remember hearing from Mrs. Sloane. For example, when Mrs. Sloane was a girl, she lived in New York City, somewhere near East 19th street as I recall. As you know, she was a rather short person, but as a young girl, also somewhat plump. Her physician recommended walking as a good exercise for her. On her walks to and from the private school she attended, she often passed the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was not only an interesting place to visit but also served as a resting place on the walks. I believe it was these frequent visits to the Metropolitan that started her lifelong interest not only in the arts, but also in museums.”

It seems she struck an imposing figure from an early age.

In a letter dated 1934 (presumably long after she grew out of her ‘plump’ stage) Mrs. Sloane wrote at length about her affinity for the Metropolitan, including this passage:

“John Taylor Johnson of New York, a friend of my Father’s, was president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for many years, and all my childhood, until I left New York to make Norfolk my home, the Metropolitan was a treasure house to me. For twenty five years I have contributed to its support and have been in close touch with its work through its monthly bulletins of activities, accessions, donations, etc., and have also been in intimate touch with several of its departments and their curators.”

Isn’t that wonderful? The Hermitage house and collection is the result of a lifetime of collaboration with the Metropolitan, so I am very excited to spend two days behind the scenes of the new American Wing before heading up the Hudson River Valley. A number of our favorite Hermitage artists will make appearances along the way and I look forward to sharing it all upon my return.

Special effusive thanks to the American Friends of Attingham for their continued support, the Attingham Advisory Committee for kindly accepting me, and to the Virginia Commission for the Arts (and, by extension, the National Endowment for the Humanities) for providing generous grant support to cover the cost of my tuition. I am looking forward to June!

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