described as "the last gentleman of the old school" and "a great beau" peter marie was an admired new york socialite of the gilded age, and in retrospect perhaps something of a creep. when he died in 1903, he bequeathed his collection of miniature paintings to the met, which they promptly rejected on grounds that it did not quite qualify as art. our contemporary ideas about art seem to be a bit less uppity and the new york historical society is now holding an exhibition of the paintings.
what's really interesting about these paintings is that he commissioned them slowly over many years and only society women whom he deemed beautiful and worthy were given the honor of sitting for a portrait. thus marie ended up amassing a private collection of 300 pictures of local new york babes that he could enjoy at his own leisure. i imagine him sitting in his private man-boudoir twirling his moustache and quietly gazing at the wall of images whilst smoking a pipe and planning the guest list to his annual ball. [not certain if he actually had an annual ball, but surely wild seven course dinner parties
a la the age of innocence?]
i especially like this painting of mrs. arthur henry paget. the opulent egyptian getup is great, and i like the idea of someone wearing fancy dress for a society portrait: