Summer Diary / Albertine

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.

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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).”

Read more about the history and design of the building here and check out the bookstore’s events here.


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