This past weekend was the last time to view Ingres’s painting “Comtesse d’Hausonville” at the Norton Simon in Pasadena before it heads back to the Frick Collection in New York City.
The crowded parking lot — I grabbed a spot across the street — seemed to indicate that lots of people had come to Pasadena to do just that. I dropped in while running errands because I hadn’t been to the Simon since the painting arrived in November and figured I better catch it. I don’t know from Ingres, really, or any early-19th-century painters; it was more as a kind of duty.
But when I walked down the Old Masters corridor, where I usually don’t tread in the museum, there were just a few people checking out the old girl, whose rendering has been described as a “rainbow of blues.” Beautiful.
There was a nice little tribute to the late Jennifer Jones Simon in the front hall.
I feel on a weekend visit the way foreigners used to tourism must feel in their own museums — in the minority. Most of the hundreds of people there were speaking a language other than English — Japanese, French, Arabic among them.
Starving, so we got some soup from the stand near the garden, which food, bless her heart, wouldn’t have been possible without Jennifer Jones — though she had to wait for Norton to die. He had locked up the auditorium and banned the notion of food or other frivolities when he took over the late, lamented Pasadena Art Museum. She finally was able to provide some sustenance.
Though the rains were long gone, and a walk down the garden path designed by Nancy Goslee Power would have been nice, a stern guard prevented that — as if the decomposed granite wasn’t quite ready for our shoes after the storms. Norton would have liked that restriction of access.
But his art — can’t fault that.