The other day I had the pleasure of co-hosting a party given by Sotheby's for their friends and clients at the Wallace Collection, which culminated in dinner around an extremely long table in the Great Gallery at Hertford House. The food was good, the company was exuberant and the art was out of this world. I don't think I have ever attended an event of this kind where the guests stayed quite as late, so I think it is safe to say that a good time was had by all. A very good time was certainly had by me: there are few things I enjoy more than talking to people who know about art and love it, and goodness knows there have been few opportunities to do that during the last eighteen months. To cap it all I can now say that I have eaten ice cream in the colours of the rainbow, in front of Rubens' Rainbow Landscape.


         Before dinner, Xavier Bray, director of the Wallace Collection, gave guests a tour of the stunning new exhibition that he has curated for the museum, "Frans Hals: The Male Portraits"; while I took them to see some of the highlights of the permanent collection in the upper galleries.


         There have been quite a few changes since I was last at the Wallace Collection: little tweaks and rehangs that have enhanced the experience of visiting the museum in all kinds of subtle ways. The two masterpieces of Boucher's career as a mythological painter, The Rising of the Sun and The Setting of the Sun, still hang over the main staircase, where they have been for many years; but Xavier recently took the inspired decision to reverse the order in which they used to be shown. Before,...

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