Yesterday afternoon I journeyed to Washington Heights to visit The Hispanic Society of America. It sits in a complex of buildings designed in the classical style & decorated with bizarre over-sized statues. The museum is a bit decrepit, & they obviously haven't had resources to update the exhibits for decades. The collection ranges from Neolithic bronzes to a decorative charger from the 1920's with a flapper girl painted on it. But the core of the collection comes from 17th century Spain, & I was shocked to discover myself at the feet of Goya's imperious & bold Duchess of Alba. My museum companion thought she could be Carmen's sister. Upstairs were more Goya & excellent samples of El Greco & Velázquez. I was especially taken by Velázquez's warm Portrait of a Little Girl, with her wary & intelligent look. Unfortunately the viewing conditions in the upstairs gallery are less than ideal, & it is impossible to find a good place to stand to view the finest paintings.
I also marveled at an exquisite Silver Filigree Casket from 17th century Goa. I can't imagine that there is much jewelry worthy to be stored in such a thing. Most surprising of all is that I & my companion were the only visitors the whole time we were there. So it is actually possible to go someplace in New York that is not swamped with people. I'm sure the Duchess of Alba would love to have more visitors.