SUMMER IN THE CITY: In honor of the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Kenneth Jay Lane Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the designer has provided 25 paintings from his private collection to go on view this summer. The works have been promised or loaned to The Met by Lane and are on view in the museum’s 19th-century galleries. Their absence has changed the interior of his Stanford White-designed 1895 townhouse considerably.
“I’ve stripped my walls more or less. My drawing room looks very strange with cables hanging for picture lights and things,” Lane said Thursday. “But they’ll be back in late August.”
Horace Vernet’s “Portrait of a Mameluke, Said to Be Roustam Raza” from 1810, Jean Lecomte du Nouÿ’s “A Merchant in Cairo” from 1870, Benjamin-Constant’s “The Serbian Concubine” from 1876 and Jean-Léon Gérôme’s “Bashi-Bazouk” from 1868-69 are among the works. Most of the artists featured were intrigued by cultures beyond the Mediterranean such as Morocco, Egypt and Turkey. Traditionally known as Orientalist painters, they traveled to those places and later incorporated what they saw into scenes of everyday life or historical themes.
Having made this season’s first pass through the second-floor gallery, Lane said he was very pleased since the paintings were double hung in two rows. “They used to do that all the time in museums and in private collections, too. That’s how they are hung in my house because I have very tall 26-foot ceilings,” the designer said.
The Met is familiar territory for Lane, who acted as an adviser for his friend Diana Vreeland years ago, handling the jewelry for The Costume Institute’s exhibitions. “She got these mannequins from Austria, I think, from a company called Schleppe. They were very streamlined, and she would say, ‘I need more Schleppies.’ She was a hoot,” Lane said.
The designer, who will leave for a three-week stay in London later this month, said, “I don’t exactly do collections — spring, fall, summer, etc. I do whatever comes into my mind whenever it comes in to my mind. That seems to have been working for the last 50 years, so…”
As for what he’s most looking forward to this summer, Lane said, “Fall — I don’t love summer in New York City, no, even though we live under air-conditioning. I remember before air-conditioning was everywhere even at home.”
That, of course, won’t be a factor for museum-goers headed to the Kenneth Jay Lane Gallery, “which is a very good location because it’s next to the Islamic Galleries.” Lane’s gallery is one of 10 in the Henry J. Heinz II Galleries in the 19th- and early 20th-century European Paintings and Sculpture section of The Met. “That was nice because Drue Heinz is an old friend of mine,” he said.