“A great collection of paintings and a great collection of people,” observed Tim Wirth, undersecretary of state for global affairs, at last week’s National Gallery goodby dinner for its enormously successful Vermeer exhibit.
The party seemed all the more special, given the general difficulties encountered by art enthusiasts who have been trying to see the show before its Feb. 11 closing. Thwarted first by the government shutdown and later by a blizzard, fans have been lining up for tickets outside the gallery well before 8 a.m. each morning.
For the guests at the dinner, conditions were much better, with the weather clear and crisp. “This is the first day I’ve been really dressed up in three months. I probably still have dust in my hair,” said Teresa Heinz, in an un-dusty Chanel. Her life, she said, has been chaotic since she’s been engaged in moving from Pittsburgh to Boston to be with her new husband, Sen. John Kerry.
“I don’t have a kitchen because the house in Boston still isn’t finished,” she said. “Most of the time, all I wear is jeans.” Various members of the Mellon clan turned up, including newlyweds Russell and Anne Byers, Dick and Ritchie Scaife and Louisa Mellon, along with various pals like Wendy Vanderbilt, Boyden Gray, Gale Hayman and Bill Hazeltine and artist Jamie Wyeth. Minutes before the black-tie crowd arrived, a jeans-clad Dudley Moore slipped in for a private viewing. He was squeezing the exhibit between rehearsals at the Kennedy Center, where he was preparing for two days at the piano with the National Symphony Orchestra.