Friday, January 18, 2019

In family-friendly Arosa, the ski is not the limit

One of the best ways to arrive in Arosa is by train -- It's fast,
efficient and convenient  (Photo: Taylor)

AROSA, SWITZERLAND One of the best things about visiting  Arosa, Switzerland is getting there. Situated at the bottom of a wide valley and accessible by car or branch line train from Chur, the snake-like route takes an hour of traveling across 365 serpentine twists while passing through several tunnels before arriving.

Making tracks to Arosa  (Courtesy:

Rhaetian Railways trains operate hourly between Chur/Arosa, through panoramic scenery where pictures fail to fully capture the spellbinding magic of the journey. As the old adage goes "seeing is believing," and nothing can top the "marshmallow world" ride to Arosa.

By the time visitors arrive in Arosa, they are already in a festive holiday mood, which further enhances the ambiance of the storybook village.

Arosa is a year-round resort
(Photo: Taylor)
Since 1877, Arosa has been a well-known sunny Alpine family-friendly health resort. Thanks to its geography, it is largely sheltered from strong winds which adds to its appeal.

Arosa is a year-round resort making it equally enjoyable in summer and winter. With more than 4,000 guest beds ranging in every price range plus a year-round population of slightly over 3,000, the village is geared for tourism with nearly a one-to-one ratio of visitors to locals.
The Arosa Bear Sancutary was an overnight favorite
Among the favorite things for families with children is the newly opened Arosa Bear Sanctuary. Working in partnership with the Arosa Bear Foundation, VIER PFOTEN, the animal welfare organization, are providing a safe habitat for five bears that were freed from poor captive conditions in 2018.

Eventually, the bears will return to their natural environments, but the on-going program allows families to view the animals "up-close-and-personal" during the rehabilitation process.

The viewing area is safe and fun
Complete with a restaurant, visitor's platform and children's playground, the sanctuary also organizes tours through the reserve.

Also popular with families is the Squirrel Trail,  a nearby path beginning in front of the Romantik Hotel BelArosa that allows guests the opportunity to feed squirrels and birds right out of the palms of their hands. The picture book trail is well worth a stroll even if visitors choose not to feed the creatures along the way.

Arosa is fun any time of year
Another favorite in August and September is the International Hill Climb Arosa Classic Car which takes place between Langweis and Arosa. Sometimes called the "Monaco of the Mountains" attractions include both on and off-track events.

With two lakes in the center of Arosa, the Untersee (Lower Lake) is ideal for summertime activities with a sandy shore, solar-heated paddling pool, a 165-foot slide, diving boards and a garden restaurant.

Horse racing in the snow always attracts a crowd
(Courtesy:  Michael

The Obersee or Upper Lake, is more popular in winter with ice skating and, better yet, the stunning but unusual sport of snow horse-racing.

Skiing is a staple of Arosa's activities with an emphasis on families  (Courtesy: Arosa Tourism)
Skiing is, of course, a staple of Arosa's winter appeal, however the Weisshorn Cable car takes both summer and winter guests to a new panoramic restaurant some 8,700 feet above sea level. With views of more than 400 mountain peaks, including the city of Chur, the 360-degree panorama is especially alluring.

The Weisshorn Cable Car was
important for ski business
(Photo: Taylor)
The first-known settlements in Arosa date as far back as the 13th century, but it would not become a popular winter resort until it began to gradually evolve in 1900. The first ski lifts were built in 1938, but it wasn't until 1956 that the Weisshorn Cable Car was opened.

Arosa was part of the municipality of Davos until 1851. Not until then did the town begin to develop its own identity.

A. Conan Doyle loved Switzerland and wrote about Arosa in 1894 Soon, the Brits discovered it too (Courtesy: Switzerland Tourism)
Historically, the region and skiing received much recognition from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle was an avid sportsman who was wintering in Davos when he ordered some "skiing boards" from Norway and hiked up the mountain with two guides.

The trio skied into Arosa before stopping for lunch at the Seehof, the first hotel in the city. Doyle later wrote of his adventure in The Strand in 1894, and soon after, British skiers were making a beeline to Arosa.

Though quiet, Arosa does have
a unique history (Photo: Taylor)
Arosa has had some other important events as well. During Christmas in 1925, Erwin Schrödinger was vacationing there when he made his breakthrough discovery of wave mechanics.

In 1933, Thomas Mann stayed in Arosa during the first week of his Swiss exile.

And on 20 February 1940, Germany's Ulrich von Hassall met with Britain's J. Lonsdale Bryant in Arosa to plot the overthrow of Adolf Hitler.

With 140 miles of slopes, Arosa has space for everyone
(Courtesy: Arosa Tourism)
Skiers, snowboarders and sledders can choose from 140 miles of slopes with guaranteed snow in winter in the region of Arosa Lenzerheide, making it the largest interconnected skiing region of Graubünden.

The modern Urden cable car can now also be used by pedestrians who can enjoy 87 miles of well-maintained hiking and walking trails.

The snow-sport region of Arosa Lenzerheide awaits with  numerous family-friendly blue slopes. On these specially marked slopes, racing is out and leisurely curving in.

Honeyland is another favorite attraction for children
(Courtesy: Arosa Tourism)

At the children's facilities in Arosa Lenzerheide where kids get their first experience on skis, funny characters  highlight the first turns which are not difficult. The Honeyland Prätschli, the Kinderlands Auarara, Fastatsch and Heimberg are easy to reach and the terrain is only slightly descending.

The Prätschli production "Honigland" (Honeyland) is a public, free beginner/children's area where the ski lift features various staging elements that create a new world of experience. The topic of "honey" is based on the bear sanctuary adventure. 

Try something really different --
night skiing
Those who enjoy snowshoe hiking, night skiing, sledding, cross-country skiing and even curling will also find everything their hearts desire in Arosa.

There are even horse-drawn sleighs where you can snuggle under warm blankets for a delightful hour-long ride into  Alpine vistas.

After a long day on the slopes, head indoors in December where big name comedians show up for the Arosa Humor Festival during the winter pre-season.

Arosa is truly a "land for all seasons" -- All you have to do is "train yourself" (Courtesy:
Each January, the unofficial Ice Snow Football world championship, brings former national players from all over the world to battle for the much-coveted title right in the heart of the snowy mountain peaks.

Arosa is truly a family-friendly "land for all seasons", where Sherlock Holmes would have most assuredly described the joys of the region as "Elementary, my dear Watson."

Friday, January 11, 2019

Skindles Guesthouse in Popertinge, Belgium has 5-star service at 3-star prices

Historic Skindles Guesthouse in Poperinge, Belgium
(Courtesy: Skindles)

POPERINGE, BELGIUM — Finding accommodations that suit your lifestyle when traveling can be a daunting task. There are almost as many options as there are personalities ranging from five star hotels to family operated inns, home stays, pensions, youth hostels, B&Bs and everything in between.
Historic, quaint B&Bs may be ideal for some for example, but not so much for those who prefer the comforts of services that can be dialed up with a single touch of the phone.

Obviously, a high percentage of travelers would enjoy five-star luxury more often were it not for the expense. That said, for many the next best alternative is a family operated establishment that is neat, clean, relatively inexpensive and allows you to interact with the proprietors who may ultimately become lifelong friends.

Skindles entrance hall today
(Courtesy: Skindles)
Using the familiar adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover", one such place is the Skindles Hotel and Guesthouse in Poperinge, Belgium. The classical 18th century mansion located at Gasthuisstraat 57 was once the residence of the Renynghe Voxvrie family.

Later, during and after World War I, Skindles was a British club available only to officers. Originally located on the same street as "La Bourse Du Houblon", the club moved to its present location at number 57.

Hunting Goddess Diana protects
the entrance (Courtesy: Skindles)
The fronton of the house is decorated with the hunting goddess Diana with all the interior furnishings dominated by the styles of Louiis XV and Louis XVI.   

While the house is charming with its casual ambiance filled with beguiling nooks and crannies that beg to be explored, there is no doubt that the key to Skindles' charm lies in the hospitable personalities of its proprietors, Chantal and Peter.

Proprietors Chantal and Peter make hospitality an art form
(Courtesy: Skindles)
Go online to read reviews of the guesthouse and, more often than not, Chantal and Peter garner rave reviews for their friendliness where each visitor receives royal treatment. In that sense, the owners would personally rate 6 or 7 stars when compared to their more elaborate counterparts.

The Meeting Room is quaint and quiet (Courtesy: Skindles)

Upon entering the inn, a cozy bar/library to the left welcomes visitors while the lounge and adjoining dining room are located to the right.

A few steps ahead lies the centrally located kitchen which is fully equipped with a refrigerator, desk, microwave, dishwasher and oven.

Continuing onward into the lovely courtyard, the "backpacker's room" provides spacious accommodations for 6 travelers who share a spirit of adventure.

Skindles garden
(Courtesy: Skindles)
The terrace overlooking the courtyard features garden furniture and barbecue facilities. Skindles also offers a large multi-purpose room for indoor activities as well as storage space for bicycles. There is private parking as well.

The three story guesthouse comfortably accommodates 16 people, thereby giving guests a sense of being at "home away from home" without dealing with hoards of anonymous faceless travelers. That intimate atmosphere is part of the charming character that is most appealing to Skindles' guests.

The salon was the place to
relax (Courtesy: Skindles)
The town of Poperinge with its history dating to medieval times, first became prosperous through the production of cloth.

Later, in the 15th century it thrived for its production of hops for beer, the favorite drink in Belgium.

Today, Poperinge also produces high quality lace.

During World War I, Poperinge was one of only two towns in Belgium that was not under German occupation even though it was less than 10 miles from the front lines.

As such, neighboring Ypres, just 8 miles away, was totally destroyed, while Poperinge became an oasis surrounded by the chaos of war.

Town Hall in Poperinge (Photo: Kenneth C Zirkel -- Creative
Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International License)

As a result, Poperinge, today, has dozens of quaint restaurants and sights for travelers to visit by using it as a base for nearby historic day trips.

A grim reminder of that period can be found at the town hall, where two death cells are preserved. Outside in the courtyard, there is a public execution post once used by firing squads. 

Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest British war cemetery in mainland Europe (Photo: Gary Blakeley -- Creative
Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International License)

Another reminder is the location of a number of military cemeteries on the outskirts of the town such as Tyne Cot, the largest British war cemetery in mainland Europe.

The British Army lost nearly 300.000 men while capturing the ruined village "Passion Dale."

Talbot House was known as
"Little Paris"
Next door to Skindles is Talbot House. From December 1915 until the end of the war, "Every man's club" provided rest and recreation for soldiers, regardless of rank, to escape the horrors of war.

Known as "Little Paris", "Toc H", as it was also known, is, today, a popular museum as well as a small guesthouse.

St.George's Church is nearby
(Courtesy: Skindles)

Just 12 minutes from Skindles is the Pilgrimage Church of St. George's which attracts thousands of visitors each year to the World War I sites of the Ypres Salient. Today, there is a small resident congregation living in Ypres and the surrounding areas of Belgium and Lille in Northern France.

Ypres was leveled and the Cloth Hall was totally destroyed
Completed in 1304, and totally destroyed during WWI, the Cloth Hall has since been  rebuilt. The first floor now houses the In Flanders Fields Museum which opened in 2012.

Last Post buglers participate in the nightly ceremony at Menin Gate  (Courtesy: Last Post Association)
Other than St. George's Church, perhaps the best known of the memorials to the fallen in Ypres is Menin Gate where at precisely 8 p.m. every evening since 1928 the "Last Post" ceremony pays homage to the 54,896 British soldiers who went missing in action during the war. Needless to say the brief ritual is both solemn and meaningful.

You see, Skindles Hotel & Guesthouse is one of those off-the-beaten path places where everything a traveler desires unites into a classic journey through time with all the comforts of home. Chantal and Peter will see to it.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Every-Man's-Club: Belgium's Eden in a world gone mad

Talbot House was a safe haven oasis amid the ravages of war
during World War I  (Courtesy:

POPERINGE, BELGIUM — In the cold, dark days of World War I, there was a haven in the small town of Poperinge, Belgium that was known as "Every-Man's-Club."

The motto was as poignant as it was simple, "An oasis of serenity in a world gone mad."

On the 11th of December 1915, a house at number 43 Gasthuisstraat in Poperinge, Belgium opened its doors to welcome British soldiers to a new club called "TalbotHouse."

Talbot House and garden as it was in 1915

Earlier in the year, the large house had been struck by German shrapnel that landed in the garden damaging the rear of the building. The owner, a wealthy beer brewer named Monsieur Coeyoet Camerlynck, opted to remove his family and their belongings to safety and, in the process, offered the empty home to the British Army for 150 francs a month.

Rev. "Tubby" Clayton
Enter Army Chaplain Reverend Philip "Tubby" Clayton who decided to use the property as a soldier's club; a safe haven, a sanctuary, a quiet place to relax even though  gunfire and bombs could be heard just a few miles away at the front.

The club became known as "Every-Man's Club" where soldiers rested, relaxed, get hot meals, showers and slept in clean sheets regardless of rank. Over the front door was a sign containing just seven words that represented the most important rule of the establishment: "All rank abandon, ye who enter here."

By and large Poperinge was spared the destruction of its nearby sister city Ypres just eight miles away. Ypres was completely leveled during in no less than five major battles that took place there.

Safe haven surrounded by war
Poperinge, on the other hand, was used as a garrison town for British soldiers, rapidly becoming a thriving metropolis thanks to its relative safety, restaurants, bars, concert halls, movie theaters and even brothels.

Thousands of soldiers passed through Poperinge each day, either go to or coming from the front. So many, in fact, that the city became known as "Little Paris."

Talbot House, as it was formally known, became a place of serenity in spite of the hostile sounds that rumbled in the distance. There were books to read while sitting on comfortable chairs drinking tea from a bottomless urn.

At the top of the house, one room had been converted into a chapel that was furnished by the soldiers themselves.

Soldiers relax with the world at war less than 10 miles away
Here men could write letters, meet with friends, relax and enjoy the solitude of being in a "home-away-from-home."

Belgium is a country of beer drinkers meaning that store rooms for hops were, and still are, plentiful. After years of renovation and financial assistance from several sponsors, the former hop store at Talbot House was officially listed as a historic monument in 1998 after being lovingly restored to its original state.

Lamp of Maintenance honors Tubby Claytons birthday
Among the Talbot House relics that can be seen today, is the old lift mechanism that pulled bales of hops to their storage space.

The Concert Hall, another feature of reconstruction was also created within the hop store. Today it displays unique artifacts from the private collections of family members of deceased veterans who donated their photos, relics and diaries to the Talbot House to establish a permanent memorial.

The Quiet Room
Today, the Concert Hall, on the ground floor of the original hop store, features a "Life Behind the Lines" exhibition focusing on Poperinge and the neighboring areas during the war.

In 1916 and 1917, Poperinge swelled to about 250,000 soldiers although during peace time it only had a population of approximately 20,000 inhabitants.

Among the exhibitions are haunting testimonials presented by single narrators. By design, they are slowly paced without music, cg's or fanfare. The speakers stand vertically rather than horizontally, leaving the impression they are talking directly to their viewers.

Artifacts, documents & relics
Illustrated with images, letters, quotations, artifacts and authentic documents, each messenger presents a personalized aspect of the roles they played during the war. For example, American brain surgeon, Dr Harvey Cushing is the central figure who describes medical aid while Lt. John Gamble talks about life in the tent camps.

Perhaps the most popular place at Fulton House was the garden, which Tubby Clayton called "the largest room in the House."

Soldiers who spent days wallowing in muddy trenches and living in cramped tree branches, found the Fulton House garden to be an oasis of tranquility. Recently restored to its original lay-out, the garden still offers restful solitude for visitors a hundred years later.

The Concert Hall was used for shows and entertainment

From the garden, touring guests arrive next at what is known as "the Slessorium", named after its builder Major Paul Slessor. Among the relics in the Slessorium is Tubby's hut, where the chaplain himself lived during the evacuation of Poperinge that took place during a German offensive in 1918.

Following the war, Tubby took his hut to the UK, but 90 years later it was returned to Belgium, and today features much of Clayton's personal memorabilia.

The Chapel was an active place for war weary soldiers seeking
tranquility and peace (Courtesy:
Old Talbot House is accessible to modern visitors, complete with authentic objects that are on display and still in use. Also newly opened is the Chaplain's room, which was Tubby's room during the war.

With seven historical bedrooms, Talbot House, remains a working B&B today. Visitors wishing to get the full effect of this World War I Eden can do so by making reservations on the Talbot House website.

Talbot House Gardens as they appear today are still a source of'
solitude and comfort  (Courtesy:

Note, the house is much as it was during the war so each room has a washbasin with hot and cold water. There is a common sanitary room on each floor with showers and toilets that are cleaned daily.

On the night of December 11 at 9 p.m. until 9 p.m. December 12, Tubby Clayton's birthday is honored in the Upper Room with the lighting of the Lamp of Maintenance.

Thus, even when war rages all around, man's capacity for peace and survival continuously innovates new ways to find solace. Tubby Clayton had the right idea, and for three years during World War I, his Every-Man's-Club was a candle of hope in the darkness of despair.

Friday, December 28, 2018

In Flanders Fields: John McCrae's poetic tribute to the fallen of World War I

John McCrae Memorial "book" close-up. McCrae House, Guelph, Ontario, Canada (Photo: Lx 121)
(Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported License)

ESSEX FARM CEMETERY, YPRES, BELGIUMNovember 11, 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice. In many ways, the "Great War", as it is called, is also the "forgotten war" because so few Americans know much about it.

In fact, as of this writing, there is no memorial in our nation's capital that honors those who  perished in the preservation of our liberty and freedom during World War I.

Muddy trenches were home for four long years
(Courtesy: Imperial War Museum)

In the countries and battlefields where the mayhem took place however, the story is quite different.

In early May of 1915, Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae composed his now famous poem In Flanders Fields in tribute to his close friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer who was killed on May 2, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. Helmer was just 22 years old.

In the absence of the chaplain who had been called away, McCrae was asked to conduct the burial of his friend.

Death march (Courtesy: Imperial
War Museum)
It was a Sunday morning when Helmer left his dugout taking a direct hit from an 8-inch German shell. He was killed instantly. According to reports "what body parts could be found were later gathered into sandbags and laid in an army blanket for burial that evening."

The memorial ceremony was simple and brief as Major McCrae recited from memory a few passages from the Church of England's Order of Burial of the Dead. Helmer's burial site was marked by a simple wooden cross; a grave that has since been lost.

Essex Farm Cemetery is home to the John McCrae Memorial
(Courtesy: Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Today, the John McCrae Memorial Site is a prominent feature of Essex Farm Cemetery where 1,204 fallen soldiers are interred, of which 104 are unidentified. The monument includes the In Flanders Fields poem composed by the major.

Established next to a dressing station by the Canadian Field Artillery during the Second Battle of Ypres, the cemetery is called "Essex Farm" to commemorate the Essex Regiment. Many believe the name was chosen in honor of a member of that regiment who was buried there in June 1915.

Model of battlefield and bunkers in Flanders  (Courtesy: In Flanders Fields Museum)

Following Helmer's burial, it is believed that McCrae began to draft his poem, though there are several accounts of what happened.

One version says McCrae was seen writing the poem the next day, sitting on the rear step of an ambulance while looking at Helmer's grave with the vivid red poppies that were springing up amongst the graves in the burial ground.

Another said that McCrae was so upset after Helmer's burial that he wrote the poem in twenty minutes in an attempt to compose himself.

Trenches, Ypres Salient
(Photo: Taylor)
A third version by commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Morrison, stated that John drafted the poem partly to pass the time between the arrival of two groups of wounded soldiers at the first aid post and partly to experiment with different variations of the poem's meter.

Regardless of which story is true, Major McCrae's poem is a haunting reminder of the insanity of war. During the 16 day of the Second Battle of  Ypres, of which there were a total of five, one observer wrote this account:

"We saw how they crept out to bury their dead during lulls in the fighting. So the rows of crosses increased day after day, until in no time at all it had become quite a sizeable cemetery. Just as John described it, it was not uncommon early in the morning to hear the larks singing in the brief silences between the bursts of the shells and the returning salvos of our own nearby guns.” 

In the autumn of 1914 a small burial ground had been established by the French Army on a canal bank during the First Battle of Ypres. By May of the following year, the site contained graves of both French and Canadian casualties becoming known as Essex Farm British Military Cemetery.  Essex Farm was a nearby farm in the area.

Plaque denotes the first use of poison gas in warfare
(Photo: Taylor)
It was during the battle to defend Allied terrain in the northern Ypres Salient, that the Germans introduced a deadly, never before used weapon, poison gas.

Major McCrae submitted his poem to The Spectator magazine but it was rejected and returned. It was not published until Punch printed it on December 8, 1915.

Poppy fields of Flanders have become the symbol of the region
and the war  (Photo: Taylor)
In the Punch version the word "blow" is used in the first line even though McCrae also wrote the word "grow" in other handwritten rewrites. The poem contains just 15 lines but they are as powerful and poignant as they are haunting:

John McRae's poem
(Photo:  SherylForbis)

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

                     We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
                     Loved and were loved, and now                       we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."

Travelers who visit the Menin Gate Memorial and/or participate in the Last Post ceremony will find Lieutenant Alex Helmer's name commemorated on Panel 10. His name is among nearly 55,000 soldiers with no known grave in the battlefields of the Ypres Salient.

Last Post at Menin Gate in Ypres honors the fallen every night of the year (Courtesy:
Today, in tribute to those fallen warriors, Ypres honors them with a nightly ceremony known as the "Last Call." A tradition which has been observed each evening since 1929.

Friday, December 14, 2018

A love affair with the art of Pablo Picasso

Art collector Angela Rosengart posed for Pablo Picasso when she was a teenager (Courtesy: Rosengart Foundation)
LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND – Angela Rosengart was only a teenager when she met Pablo Picasso for the first time. Today, at 88, the Swiss art collector from Lucerne fondly recalls more than 50 encounters with the charismatic Spanish artist, most notably the five occasions when she posed for him.

The Kapellebruck (Chapel Bridge) is Lucerne's most endearing
landmark (Photo: Eluveitie -- Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
For years Rosengart displayed her collection of Picassos in a historic but unobtrusive gallery on a side street in the Old Town of Lucerne. In 2002 however, the exhibition expanded and moved to a neoclassical building across the River Reuss in New Town. Situated on Pilatustrasse, across the street from the railway station and in the shadow of the famed Chapel Bridge, the new display represents three Rosengart collections, each with its own floor.

Rosengart Museum, Lucerne
(Courtesy: Rosengart Foundation)
Over the years Rosengart also met Miro, Matisse, Braque and Chagall, but none of them could match the aura of Picasso. “It was those deep, piercing Spanish eyes,” she says. “They felt like arrows, and I very much felt that.”

After sessions ranging from 20 minutes to three hours, Frau Rosengart says she was exhausted each time because her soul felt “burned” by the experience.

Following in the footsteps of her father Siegried, who was responsible for love of art and collecting, Rosengart’s exhibition includes about 60 Impressionist and pos-Impressionist paintings, over 125 water colors and drawings by native son artist Paul Klee and 32 oils plus more than 50 drawings by Picasso.

Kapellbrucke with rushing waters of the River Reuss in Lucerne (Photo: Edwin Lee -- licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution  license)
Siegfried Rosengart became Picasso’s principal dealer in Switzerland and held eight exhibitions of the artist’s work between 1956 and 1971. Each catalogue cover was designed by the artist himself.

For years the Rosengarts frequently visited Picasso in the south of France, and it was this unique life-long friendship that has a subliminal effect on visitors to her gallery today.

Part of the magic lies in a collection of black and white photographs by American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan that chronicle the artist’s life. Duncan and Picasso became close friends, and he was the only person allowed to photograph many of Picasso’s private paintings.

First encounter with Picasso
(Photo: David Douglas Duncan
-- Rosengart Foundation)
Duncan made a name for himself as a combat and freelance photographer of Life magazine and National Geographic. Duncan, who died earlier this year at the age of 102, first met Picasso while on assignment for Life magazine. The artist invited him to enter his home as he was taking a bath and, unable to resist the opportunity, Duncan’s photographic instincts took over. It was an event that  marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

Later, Angela purchased Duncan’s entire collection of Picasso images. When combined with her personal collection of Picasso’s work, the artist comes to life in ways that are difficult to describe without a personal viewing.

Pablo Picasso's piercing, penetrating eyes as viewed by Angela Rosengart (Photo: David Douglas Duncan -- Rosengart
The five portraits of Angela, which Picasso gave to her, are the centerpiece of her exhibition. Though Picasso was passionate in his love for women, his sketches of Angela are “compassionate” in a manner that presents his subject as the chaste, innocent teenager she was. In that sense, the etchings are uniquely different from most of Picasso’s other portraits.

Rosengart believes that perhaps the reason for the lovingly platonic representations of her was due to the fact that Picasso’s childhood sweetheart’s name was Angela.

Duncan captured the many moods of the complex artist
(Photo: David Douglas Duncan -- Rosengart Foundation)

Says Rosengart of Picasso’s portraits, “He only wanted to know whether my mother liked them.”

Angela Rosengart never married. If she had, she says she would probably never have been able to amass her collections.

Despite that, when one of Siegfried’s clients became frustrated that Angela’s father would not sell one of his prized Picassos because he had promised it to his daughter on her wedding day, the bemused Picasso pragmatically asked, “Then why didn’t he marry Angela?”

Rosengart Portrait
(Courtesy: Rosengart
Thanks to their close association with the artist, the Rosengarts were able to watch Picasso at work on several occasions. That relationship allowed them to reserve some of the renderings while the paint was still wet.

So intimate and personal are Angela Rosengart’s collections that she never lends to other galleries. For her, a stroll through her museum is like visiting with old friends.

The Rosengart collection features the works of Monet, Renoir, Pissaro and Chagall as well as those of Swiss native son Paul Klee, who also holds a place deep in Angela’s heart. But it is the works of Pablo Picasso she holds most dear.

You see this is a love story about a triangle between a photographer, an artist and a collector. It is a story about life, living and friendship and though it was not sexual, it was every bit as passionate and intimate.