Cocktails with a Curator….Captivating!

July 14, 2020 at 2:44 pm (Art)

The Polish Rider, by Rembrandt


The White Horse, by John Constable

Every Friday at Five PM, the Frick Collection has been presenting “Cocktails with a Curator.” For 17 or 18 minutes, a curator holds forth on the subject of a single work of art housed at the Frick: its history, provenance, and most interesting features. Along with this edifying – but never heavy handed –  commentary, the viewer gets a curated cocktail recommendation that ties in somehow with the work being presented. (Recipes for the cocktails can be found on the Frick’s website.)

The episodes remain available on YouTube after they are originally broadcast. But it’s fun to be present for the first broadcast, because of the running chat that appears on the right. People send greetings from many different places.  When I watched this past Friday, in addition to a goodly number of us in the U.S., their viewers in the UK and Canada; there was someone from Wroclaw, Poland, and another person from Naples, Italy.

Commenters in the chat box invariably wax enthusiastic about the broadcasts. These are mainly hosted by Xavier Salomon, who introduces himself as “the Peter Jay Sharp chief curator at the Frick Collection.” (A few of the episodes are also presented by another curator, the delightful Aimee Ng.) Son of an English mother and a Danish father, Salomon was born in Rome and grew up there. At age eighteen, he moved to London, where he attended the renowned Courtauld Institute. Ultimately he received his doctorate there, having authored a dissertation entitled ‘The Religious Artistic and Architectural Patronage of Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini (1571-1621)’

Well gosh…

As for his professional history, we’re informed by an article in This Week in New York that Salomon “…previously worked at the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, and the Met here in New York…” The author of this piece adds that this is “…quite a resume for a man only just in his forties….”

Xavier F. Salomon

This same article proclaims Salomon to be “…fast becoming an internet superstar for his Friday talks.” This is easy to believe if you follow the nonstop praise appearing in the chat box.

The first in the series centers on Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert. And no, Xavier does not recommend a Bellini cocktail to his viewers, but rather, a classic Manhattan. (For those who choose not to imbibe, or who are under age, there is also a ‘mocktail’ recipe.)

Here are the two episodes that correspond to the paintings at the top of this post:



You might also enjoy ‘Travels with a Curator.’ I particularly like this one, about an exquisite gem in Venice that was completely new to me. (Ah, will one ever return to Venice…)


Xavier and Aimee both acknowledge the pain and frustration we’re all feeling right now, as we remain imprisoned by this loathsome antagonist. In these video segments, they do their best to brighten these gray days that we are all facing.

You can access these treasures via the Frick site or on YouTube. And this Friday, it’s Vermeer!

I for one am deeply grateful.





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