The patrons of the Upper East Side flocked to The Frick Monday night for the museum’s Spring Garden Party for Fellows, which celebrated the arrival of Sir Frederic Leighton’s 1895 painting “Flaming June.” The opening at the Frick marks the painting’s first appearance in New York from its usual home in Puerto Rico, and “June” received a proper Manhattan welcome – guests had the museum to themselves, including the rarely opened second floor, and after wandering through each corner of 18th-century European art, they found their way to the Fifth Avenue garden for live jazz, Champagne and socializing.
“Oh, I love this museum. It’s one of my favorites of all time,” said art collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund. “I used to tell people that you didn’t have to take drugs, you just had to come to the Frick for 45 minutes and you’d be on a high for the rest of the day.”
What of the night’s debutante, “Flaming June,” who will be visiting until Sept. 6? “I’ve always loved it. It’s so dramatic and so much fun,” Gund gushed.
The museum is noted for its combination of great furniture and great art, something Gund finds unique. “I’ve memorized where things are and I get mad at directors when they change it,” she said.
She and the rest of the attendees came out in their festive spring best – outfits in every blooming shade, and highly ornate hats to match. Craig Starr, the owner of the namesake gallery on 73rd Street, was taken by the array of springtime headpieces. “Aren’t they great? I think they’re just fantastic,” he said while swiping through images he snapped on his iPhone. Gund also found the theatrics of the toppers quite in theme: “It’s very pre-Raphaelite.”