Crossposted From Under the Fig Tree
Two friends of mine, ardent champions of all things cultural, were en route to Los Angeles the other day when they decided to stop off in Bentonville, Arkansas, to see the brand new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Given all the advance publicity the museum received, they knew they were in for a treat. The richness of the museum’s holdings, the affability of its setting, the imaginative architecture designed by Moshe Safdie — everything they had read about the institution suggested there would be much to please the eye and delight the senses.
What my friends did not anticipate was meeting up with the Levys and the Franks, a prosperous colonial American Jewish family. But there they were, in all their 18th-century glory: six portraits, one after the other, of the paterfamilias Moses Levy, his daughter, Abigail, son-in-law Jacob Franks and several of their children. You can’t miss them; these oil paintings, the handiwork of Gerardus Duyckinck, are front and center as you enter the museum’s very first gallery.