After an early breakfast on the Upper West Side, I realised I could take the A train to the Cloisters, which John D. Rockefeller built in the 1930s to house the collection of George Grey Barnard, a collector, dealer and sculptor, who had acquired relics, carvings and indeed whole cloisters from his travels round France and Spain in the 1920s. René Gimpel said of Barnard that ‘he talks of art as if it were a cabalistic science of which he is the only astrologer…He’s a sort of Rasputin of criticism’.
This is the building:-
The Cuxa Cloister from Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa near Perpignan:-
A Virgin and Child (c.1130) from near Autun:-
A Seated Bishop by Riemenschneider:-
A limewood Virgin and Chikd (c.1510):-
However much I admired many of the individual objects, I found the setting left me cold, apart from the Treasury in the basement which isn’t trying to be something it isn’t and has some very beautiful objects, including this ivory Christ (c.1300):-
I don’t know why the building feels sterile because conceptually it’s not so different from the Musée de Cluny, apart from being the wrong side of the Atlantic.