Fin de Siècle Art and Sacher Torte in New York
New York often seems to have more in common with the continent across the Atlantic than it does with the one that stretches for almost 3,000 miles from the western banks of the Hudson River. European ambience is especially pervasive in the Neue Galerie, a 1914 Beaux-Arts mansion that would fit right in on Vienna’s Ringstrasse.
Early 20th-century socialites Cornelius and Grace Vanderbilt lived and entertained in the paneled salons overlooking Central Park, and they would probably be pleased to see them now filled with stunning early 20th-century German and Austrian paintings and decorative arts. Few enclaves in New York are more transporting, and all that slightly decadent Germanic art is especially warming on a rainy New York afternoon.
A shimmering gold-flecked portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt is the gallery’s Mona Lisa, an ornate dazzler that evokes fin de siècle Vienna and carries a dramatic provenance to match – the early death from meningitis of the wealthy subject, confiscation by the Nazis in World War II, a protracted court battle to return the painting to the rightful heirs, and a price tag of $135 million; this sum makes the piece the most expensive painting ever sold – to billionaire Ronald Lauder, who assembled this stunning collection with famed art dealer Serge Sabarsky.
Should Adele and works by Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, and other devotees of Art Nouveau and the Bauhaus leave you in the mood to linger over a coffee and sacher torte, sink into a plush banquet in the Café Sabarsky.