Friday, August 7, 2015

Icebergs in August

There's nothing like a good story, and this year's Olana summer fundraising party has a great story as its inspiration.

In 1859, Frederic Church and his friend Louis Legrand Noble took a month-long schooner cruise in the North Atlantic, in the vicinity of Labrador and Newfoundland. The monumental painting The Icebergs was an outcome of that adventure.

When the painting was unveiled in New York on April 24, 1861, the New-York Daily Tribune called it "the most splendid work of art that had yet been produced in this country." The painting was exhibited both in this country and in London, and in 1863, it was purchased by Sir Edward Watkin, a Manchester railroad magnate, who kept it at his country estate, Rose Hill.

After Watkin died in 1901, Rose Hill became a boys' school--by some accounts, a reform school for boys--but The Icebergs remained there, forgotten by the art world, until 1979, when it was rediscovered. Sotheby's negotiated the sale of the painting to Lamar and Norma Hunt for an unprecedented $2.5 million. (Lamar Hunt was the son of Dallas oil tycoon H. L. Hunt.) The Hunts bought the picture for their home in Dallas, but its size--more than 5 feet by about 10 feet--prevented them from doing that, so they donated it to the Dallas Museum, where it has been ever since.

It is this painting that is the inspiration for Olana's Icebergs in August, which is happening tomorrow night. At the height of summer, everything about this party will be ice inspired. Area chefs will be creating Arctic related comestibles. There will be Iceberg Vodka "made with pure iceberg water." An ice artist will be carving a giant nine-foot iceberg on the lawn overlooking the Olana viewshed. Guests are encouraged, though not required, to wear "ice inspired attire."

There is still time to be a part of Olana's high summer ice extravaganza. Tickets are available online here.

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