Friday, October 31, 2014


A post-luncheon group shot at Los Molinillos, the country estate of Piru and Jaime Urquijo.
By Sharon King Hoge

AFV Founder Catharine Hamilton in the Queen's Guard Room.
Escorted by Bourbon descendants of the Kings of France, contributors to the American Friends of Versailles were recently entertained for four days in some of Madrid's iconic institutions and private homes linked to the Spanish Bourbons.

Organized and escorted by Princess Beatrice de Bourbon des Deux Siciles and her cousin Prince Charles-Philippe d'Orleans, the group was treated to private tours of the Prado and Royal Palaces in Madrid and Aranjuez as well as elaborate meals in private palaces, clubs, and homes.

The underlying mission was raising funds to restore the ceiling of the Guard Room in Marie Antoinette's suite of apartments in Versailles.

Damaged by bombing, the painting of Jupiter in Majesty in a chariot drawn through the clouds by two eagles currently is held together with pieces of tape, and the AFV's current project is to rescue it. Since Spain's Philip V was the grandson of Louis XIV, born at Versailles but sent to Spain in 1704 to resolve a problem of succession, visiting his contemporary Bourbon cousins seemed appropriate.
Tape sustains the ceiling of the Queen's Guard Room.
Arriving from Chicago, Paris, Texas, Ohio, New York, the group assembled at the Hotel Ritz Madrid for an opening night briefing and banquet. Founded by King Alfonso XIII, the Ritz carries its own Bourbon connection. After dinner and welcoming toasts, Princesse Beatrice outlined the itinerary for the upcoming four days.
Ritz Hotel initial gathering.
Ritz Banquet table setting.
Opening dinner at the Madrid Ritz dining room.
Prince Charles Philippe greets guests at the opening dinner.
Princesse Beatrice previews the itinerary.
Dessert served at the opening dinner.
The next morning the group crossed the street to the Prado for greetings from by Dr. Juan Jose Luna, head curator of 18th century painting, before leaving on a guided tour of the great museum's highlights. The subsequent lunch of creamy shrimp and squid was served back at the Ritz on the outdoor terrace.
Walking across the street to the Prado.
Prince Charles-Philippe introduces Prado Curator Dr. Juan Jose Luna.
Reviewing treasures of the Prado.
Bernardino Luini, The Holy Family. Prado, Madrid. Luini shows the influence Leonardo da Vinci had in the area around Milan.
After the private tour, guest were treated to a luncheon on the Ritz Hotel Terrace.
Prince Charles-Phillipe and his wife Princesse Diana, Duquesa de Cadaval.
Grilled king prawns and baby squids at the Ritz luncheon.
Guanaja chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet at the Ritz luncheon.
View of the Prado from Ritz Hotel window.
A special coach arrived that afternoon to drive the group to the Royal Palace where Prince Charles-Philippe had access to special apartments and rooms usually reserved for ambassadors and foreign dignitaries. There followed a private tour of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Galleries and its gift shop selling condiments cleverly labeled Delica-Thyssen.
Approaching the Royal Palace.
Admiring the king's apartments.
Princess Diana in a royal setting.
Visiting the Royal Apartments.
Renee Cafero in the Throne Room.
Admiring the Thyssen Bornemisza Collection.
Another gallery of the Thyssen Bornemisza Collection.
Detail at the Thyssen Bornemisza.
The next stop was dinner at the exclusive Casino de Madrid where chef Paco Roncero served an inventive meal -- sixteen mini-courses ranging from rhubarb with black pepper to fake calamari risotto with green curry and concluding with a sweet charcoal dessert that looked like an ashy burnt log.
Dinner at Casino de Madrid.
Preparing the snacks at La Terraza del Casino and an exotic course at Casino de Madrid.
The next morning coaches proceeded out of town to visit another Royal Palace. Aranjuez was the summer residence of the kings and more recently the palace where visiting dignitaries were lodged. After touring its sumptuous rooms we crossed to La Casita del Labrador, an exquisite small palace decorated with many French touches by craftsmen who came to Spain as were refugees from the French Revolution.
Approaching Aranjuez.
Gregory Hedberg with Laurie and James Bay outside Aranjuez Palace.
Teresa Viola and Rosemarie Peluso outside the Palace.
Porcelain Room at Aranjuez.
Faith Coolidge at Aranjuez. Michele Fuoan in Aranjuez Palace Dining Room.
Proceeding to Toledo, we were received by the Duque and Duchess of Tarifa at their family home, the Hospital de Tavera, built in the 16th-century as a hospital and tomb for the archbishop. After a cocktail reception and seated dinner in the extensive library among its ancient medical records, the Duque led us through its important artworks and showed us the sub-basement crypt.
Reception at the Tavera Palace.
Princesse Diana and Prince Charles-Philippe at the Tavera Palace.
Princesse Beatrice thanks Tavera luncheon host, the Duque of Tarifa.
The seated lunch in the Library of the Tavera Palace ...
Sunday we drove out to El Escorial, the monastery palace where we were allowed to see the collection of extraordinary tapestries in apartments not often open to the public.
Approaching El Escorial.
View of El Escorial.
Greeted with the keys to El Escorial.
Group photo at El Escorial.
We proceeded to a wonderful luncheon at Los Molinillos, the country estate of Piru and Jaime Urquijo. After a buffet with two types of paella and the mandatory roast pig, we all posed for a group photo with the family before driving back to a cocktail reception at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Perez Hernando, two collectors of art and antiques.
Our gracious hosts at Los Molinillos, the Urquijo family.
Luncheon cocktails in the courtyard of Los Molinillos.
Luncheon cocktails in the courtyard of Los Molinillos.
The tables set for lunch the Terrace of Los Molinillos.
Luncheon buffet at Los Molinillos.
Prince Charles-Philippe toasts our hosts at Los Molinillos.
Monday after a private visit to the extraordinary Lazaro Galdiano House Museum, we were received for lunch by the Marquises of Santa Cruz who showed us around his collection of artifacts from the Battle of Lepanto in which his ancestors had played a pivotal role in the Spanish success.

From there we toured the amazing private apartments of the Duchess of Alba, admiring her family snapshots interspersed with priceless works by Goya and Velasquez.

That last evening in Madrid we were hosted for cocktails by Mrs. Alicia Koplowitz, Marchioness of Bellavista y del Real Socorro and we mingled among works by Anish Kapoor, Richard Serra, and her unorthodox collection of portraits of women.
John Nichols admires a lantern from the Battle of Lepanto.
The Marquises of Santa Cruz greets his visitors.
Two Princesses -- Beatrice and Diana.
This was the third private trip sponsored by the American Friends of Versailles which has also held balls at the palace Versailles to restore its Trois Fontaines Bosquet and the Pavilion Fraise. Upcoming trips for contributors may visit Portugal, Tuscany, and St. Petersburg.
AFV President Baron Roland de l'Espee and Patricia Hearst.
AFV Director Michele Fouan. Bonnie Deutsch.
Bill and Aimee Maroney.
Chicago Art Patrons Alexandra and John D. Nichols. Francophile Renee Holman.
David Hamilton with Laurie and Jim Bay.
David Hamilton and Gregory Hedberg.
Patricia Hearst, Catharine Hamilton, Susan Higginbotham, and Sharon Oeschger.
Gregory Hedberg and Aimee Maroney.
Texas Businesswoman Sharon Oeschger. New York Decorator Teresa Viola.
Sharon Oeschger and Susan Higginbotham.
New Yorker Faith Coolidge. New Yorker Rosemarie Peluso.
Photos by Quentin Bacon and Sharon King Hoge.
Click here for NYSD Contents