My Aunt Eleanor was a magical person. She was effortlessly elegant and beautiful. She had porcelain skin and long, blonde hair, arranged in a casual chignon that always had a certain tension to it, as if it might fall to her shoulders at any minute.
GLENN CLOSE. PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Fine things surrounded her: fine perfume, china, art, carpets and fabrics of all kinds. To this day, I can conjure up the feel and fragrance of the guest room I stayed in, when I was little, on a visit to the Pavillon d’Artois, in Vaux-sur-Seine.
The fabrics on the bed, its coverlet and curtains and the hangings on the windows were blue, woven silks and satins. The windows looked down on a formal boxwood garden, leading into a park, at the end of which was the river and beyond, a little island.
The park was magic, too - an 18th century grotto to the right and an extensive kitchen garden behind the hedges to the left.
ELEANOR POST CLOSE (1909-2006), ART COLLECTOR, PATRON AND PHILANTHROPIST. © HILLWOOD ESTATE, MUSEUM & GARDENS ARCHIVES. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAMES R. DUNLOP INC.
I remember having a summer lunch around the table in her oval dining room. The French doors were open onto the park and the statues, in their respective niches, seemed to come alive on that perfect summer day. We had mussels, fresh corn from the garden and delicious bread, cheeses and dessert. It was a perfect meal, in a perfect setting and is imprinted in my mind’s eye forever.
I loved Aunt Eleanor’s voice, as she expounded on art, religion, music or her great and lasting love of India.
She was beautiful, witty, strong, fragile and eternally fascinating. I loved her - was in awe of her - and miss her, to this day.