BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Desmond Shawe-Taylor, holder of the lofty 17th-century title of Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, gave guests at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Old Masters Society 40th anniversary party a historical tour of some of the 7000 masterpieces housed in breathtaking royal castle rooms.
Art Institute President, James Rondeau, greeted guests and led applause for Laura de Frise, who had just stepped down as OMS President. New President, David Horn, thanked the membership, known for its dynamic enthusiasts of all ages, for their “constant and loving support” over the past 40 years. Young business professionals and canny social movers started the OMS to provide a support group for the Art Institute’s central collection of European paintings.
Gloria Groom, Curator of 19th Century European Painting and Sculpture; OMS curators Martha Wolff, Rebecca Long, Jonathan Tavares, and Emerson Bowyer; Eve Jeffers, Senior Vice President for External Affairs; and Kevin Salatino, Chair of Prints and Drawings, celebrated the support group’s accomplishments. Amy and Paul Carbone served as chairs of the annual distinguished speakers evening.
In her introduction of Shawe-Taylor, a renowned scholar and author on wide-ranging subjects including Georgian portraiture, the actor David Garrick, and Dutch artists, Gloria recalled his first visit to Chicago:
“Nearly 30 years before he became Surveyor, a much younger Desmond was here for the wedding of our mutual friend Malcolm Warner, who was then working in the European Paintings department. While here, Desmond lectured on Rembrandts in conjunction with an exhibition of Old Master paintings from the Hermitage and Pushkin museums.
“What I remember most vividly was a pre-wedding day cricket match in Taylor Park in the western suburbs where he tried to teach us non-Brits this sort of, but not very, baseball-like game. I was reassured that he remembered me from our cricket debut/debacle, but of course what he really remembered were the collections, which is why he unhesitatingly accepted our offer and the opportunity to return to Chicago and the Art Institute.”