I love walking around in neighborhoods I don’t live in. One of my favorites is the Upper East Side. Call it what you want, but I love wandering through those streets. I think there’s something about being so close to the park and all those museums. Makes me feel like I’m on vacation from my own neighborhood.
Earlier this summer, I decided to walk downtown from an art class I had taken at The Guggenheim and along the way I passed by (what I later learned was) the Payne Whitney mansion, home of Albertine, a bookstore “devoted solely to books in French and English.” Not that I speak French, let alone read it, but I found myself totally fascinated by this building. It’s old, regal, luxurious, and, it has a beautiful mural of an astrological solar system painted in my favorite hue of blue on the ceiling of the library on the second floor.
With minimal research (long live the age of Googling), I learned that “Albertine’s ceiling – a hand-painted mural of constellations, stars, and planets — was modeled after the extraordinary ceiling of the music room at the Villa Stuck in Munich, Germany, crafted by Franz von Stuck (1863-1928).”