The crown jewel of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a Crucifixion by the Flemish master, Rogier van der Weyden. At the museum, I always spend time contemplating this gem. At the Prado, I saw his "Descent from the Cross" with the same St. John the Evangelist in the Philadelphia diptych. Where else had this character shown up?
In 2005, Peggy and I flew into Madrid. We don't speak Spanish and the taxi driver from the airport spoke no English. We handed him the address of our downtown hotel. He studied it and was obviously puzzled. The driver entered the address into his GPS system, but he still could not figure out where we were going.
Nearly 500 years ago, Don Juan Ponce de León traipsed across Florida in search of the elusive fountain of youth. But the Spanish explorer may have been misguided about leaving home, as now Americans searching the Internet for rejuvenating vacation spots voyage to his native Iberian Peninsula in droves.
On two successive evenings last week—at the New York auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s—a half-billion dollars worth of art changed hands. I am fascinated by the art world—the work itself, the lives of the artists, collectors great and small, and the value and prices that art commands. Plus, of course, the business of auctions and museums is intriguing. Relatively few people have money to buy great works of art for their homes and yachts. Fortunately for the rest of us, many of the great collectors either founded public museums of their own or left their art to established institutions. Since no advertisements were booked