This week: Marrakech
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“ELEVEN FABULOUS mansions are vestiges of the 19th-century capitalist boom when bankers and businesspeople built their summer homes overlooking the Atlantic,” says the 7th edition of Lonely Planet New England.
These 11 are strung along the Cliff Walk (www.cliffwalk.com), a 5 1/2-kilometre path running south from Newport, Rhodes Island. The name “Vanderbilt,” a family whose wealth came from shipping and railroads, is associated with several of them.
The guidebook recommends visits to three mansions in particular:
•Rough Point: besides its “peerless position and splendor of the grounds,” the house itself has medieval tapestries, Ming vases and works by Renoir and Van Dyck
•Breakers: 70 rooms, built in the style of a 16th-century Genoese palazzo, this is “the most magnificent Newport mansion,” with most of its original furnishings
•The Elms: “a replica of Château d’Asnières, built near Paris in 1750,” it offers a behind-the-scenes tour that shows the place as its army of servants saw it
There’s also Rosecliff, designed to look like the Grand Trianon at Versailles, with a palatial ballroom (Newport’s largest) and landscaped grounds that were “the setting for some truly enormous parties.” It’s appeared in several movies including Amistad, High Society and the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby (the one that starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow).
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BACK IN THE 17th century, while the rest of Europe was still ruled by monarchs, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was under the control of the bourgeoise, having run Spain’s Philip II out of the country in 1581. While building the Netherlands into a prosperous and powerful nation, these sons and daughters of the land also found time to have themselves immortalized in a series of huge group paintings.
Rembrandt’s Night Watch is the best-known example, but more than 30 others, the largest of them measuring 3 X 6 metres, have been dusted off and gathered together to create Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age, a new exhibition that opens 29 November 2014 at the Hermitage Amsterdam.
The group portraits were commissioned by a city’s civic guard, or the administrators of a governing body, or by one of the many guilds, such as the corn bearers or the surgeons. The exhibition answers the questions, “Who were these men and women?” and, “Why are they in the painting?” The show runs until the end of 2016. The Night Watch remains at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
137 shows worth travelling to
including this one in Montreal
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