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The noted collector and historian, Lord Rothschild, or Jacob to his international friends in high places, is famous for his passion for the arts. There is scarcely an event, cultural or creative, that the charming and genial Jacob has not dipped his knowledgeable finger into, at home in England or abroad. He is an authority on paintings and architecture and the decorative arts, and even something as esoteric as chess pieces specially created for an exhibition at Somerset House in London commands his attention.
As you read here before, ever since Putin came to visit the Queen, the English have gone a bit — more than a bit — à la Russe, Russian themes at parties and such. So it came to pass that Lord Rothschild and his only son, Nat, were hosts at a private dinner in Somerset House, not only to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, “The Art of Chess,” but also the tercentenary of the Foundation of St. Petersburg. The dinner was sponsored by Oleg Deripaska, the Russian magnate who is, of course, very rich. Jacob’s speech before dinner honored all Russians present and was translated into Russian by an interpreter.
There are no kitchens at Somerset House, so dinner was a catered affair, which was fine, but the glaring lighting was inquisitorial, as many of the grand guests there duly noted. In fact, Lord Rothschild caught it about that lighting from a couple of very influential ladies present. Women notice unflattering lighting more than men do, so in the future, it will behoove milord to think pink. Methinks he will.
“The Art of Chess” is a show of incredible 20th-century chess sets from private collections, including the only one ever designed by Fabergé and that for none other than Tsar Nicholas II. Among the 19 sets are designs by Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder, Max Ernst, Yoko Ono, Josef Hartwig and even Damien Hirst, whose pieces in crystal and silver resemble fancy apothecary jars. You will be thrilled to hear, maybe, that there were no parts of pickled animals floating around inside.