Sunday, February 19, 2012

Some call it Richmond, I would love to call it home.

My first trip to Richmond was a year ago—a spur of the moment Valentine’s weekend trip. This year, when the topic came up about going away, Dutchboy and I both leapt at the chance to go back to Richmond. I’ve been home a week now, and my heart is still there. I love this city so very much. It’s a European feel with Southern hospitality; filled with gorgeous architecture and a fantastic museum….there’s so much to it. Basically there is a vibe there that tells me I’ve come home. That’s rare.

Anyway, we drove up on a Sunday, arriving in time to spend a few delicious hours wandering at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.






Again, this was our first stop last year, but we didn’t get to see everything due to limited time. This year, we started in the places we missed last year—the American Art Collection. It is a truly beautiful collection—there’s a lovely O’Keefe, and an Edward Hopper. But those pieces weren’t the ones that struck me as most beautiful. What they did have that surprised and thrilled me to bits was a Thomas Hart Benton!! I adore him!! With his curvy, surreal figures and exaggerated realties.

Brideship (Colonial Brides) by Thomas Hart Benton

Don’t you just adore it???

There’s also the Worsham-Rockefeller bedroom on display at VMFA. This room was removed as a whole from a New York townhouse before its demolition in 1937. The room design was commissioned by Richmond-native Arabella Worsham for her West Fifty-Fourth Street, New York, home. Later, John D. Rockefeller purchased the home. It’s an exquisite room—and according the placard, a perfect example of the Anglo-American Aesthetic movement. I would just call it gorgeous.




Rather than bore you with more details of the museum, I will simply post the photos of some of my favorites from the remainder of the museum. And no, we STILL didn’t get through the whole thing in an afternoon. There was much, much more I would have liked to revisit. Like the Modern Art Collection and most of the European Gallery.

A Spring Offering-- Francis Davis Millet

Lotus and Laurel by Henry Prellwitz

Peines de Coeur (Heartbreak) by Charles Sprague Pearce

Woman in the Studio by Alfred Stevens. (Belgian)

The Younger Brother by William-Adolphe Bouguerau

A room in the European Gallery.

Seated Ganesha from a Temple in India (let me step in here and say it pains me to see such gorgeous work chiseled from its rightful place of worship. It HURTS. Countries should retain their artifacts. In fact, there was an exhibition of Egyptian antiquities on loan from the British Museum that we did NOT pay to attend. Because I do not agree with the British Museum's refusal to return certain objects and antiquities. But that’s another story. We’re all thieves of history, I suppose. Maybe I should just let it go. /rant)

Lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany

VFMA has an exquisite collection of Art Deco and Art Nouveau pieces. I could happily spend hours there, surrounded by the work of Horta, Guimard, Lalique and others.

Art Nouveau dresser designed by Hector Guimard.

Somehow, I seem to spend most of my time in this area ogling the bust of Nature by Alphonse Mucha. It’s almost impossible to get a decent photo of it—it’s gleaming metal and marble, behind glass. She is breathtaking. Or she is to me, anyway.



Now that I have inundated you with photos of art, and most likely bored you to tears, I’ll tell you about the evening. Because you’re all anxious to know about the food, right?? After being ushered out of the museum and them locking the doors behind us, we took the short drive to the hotel. We were staying at Linden Row Inn, in the heart of downtown Richmond. We stayed there last year, and loved it. And according to the hotel website, there are ties to the beloved Edgar Allan Poe:

“In 1811, Elizabeth Poe, an actress performing in a traveling company at the Richmond Theater, became ill and died, leaving two young children orphaned. Mr. and Mrs. John Allan raised her son Edgar Poe and gave him Allan for his middle name. Returning from a five-year trip to England, the Allans (including Edgar) lived with Mr. Allan’s business partner, Charles Ellis. It was in the gardens that Edgar Allan Poe played with the Ellis children. Local legend has it that the enchanted garden is the one that Poe mentions in his famous poem “To Helen.” Historians have also noted that young Poe first courted his life-long love, Elmira Royster, in the garden where the Linden Row Inn now stands.”

Anyway, we’ll hear more of Mr. Poe on another day’s post. Back to the evening at hand, after checking in we decided to walk to a restaurant for dinner. I’ve been dying to try Cous Cous, a middle-eastern restaurant that was about a mile from the hotel. So off we set—for a VERY COLD mile trek. We arrived starving and chilled to the bone and were greeted by…locked doors. They were closed. Talk about disappointed!! So, we decided to wander around downtown and find a place to dine. I had a list of roughly twenty restaurants in the area that I wanted to sample. We lucked upon one of them, not far from our hotel. A small, hole in the wall spot called Belvidere at Broad. There weren’t many people there, but it was cozy and they had a long list of beer and wine. And a lovely reputation for good food, as it turns out is well deserved. I started with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and (completely vegetarian) French onion soup. I followed that with a roasted beet salad, with blue cheese, pine nuts and micro greens topped with ahi tuna (served rare, thank you very much!). It was outstanding food, artfully presented, with great service. You’ll have to take my word for it—it was so dimly lit that pictures were totally impossible.

We didn’t opt for dessert because my snooping little Dutch boy had ferreted out his valentine’s present—a bag filled with licorice and various types of his favorite chocolates. There was plenty of it to share between two loving and consenting married people. Besides—The Foo Fighters (Dave Grohl!!!) were on the Grammys and we had to rush back to the hotel so I could see that. You didn’t think this was going to end as a gushy romantic post, did you?? Filled with Valentine goopy sentiments and sexy details!?!?!? What kind of girl do you think I am?!?!?!? Well, you’re probably right, but I’m not posting about it. :-P

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