Welcome To The Newport Season

An astonishing cast of characters moves in and out of Newport. First settled as a colony of religious freedom in 1637, Newport retains its sassy nonconformity, best stated by former United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Paul Taylor, who settled here ten years ago with his wife Dorcas, who says “ We used to travel to the world. Now we live here, and the world comes to us.”


What have you missed this spring by not being in America’s First Resort?


The French Film Festival opened in March with the terrific French thriller “Tell No One” at the Jane Pickens Theater, a cultural icon of this seaside town, and continued at Salve Regina University with a screening of Persepolis, the film about a young Iranian girl coming of age, which was enthusiastically received. Socialite/philanthropist Ruth Orthwein attended with Newport favorite John Zawicki, and Curtis LaFrance, long-term supporter and former President of the Alliance Francaise, a co-sponsor of the Festival of Newport, and 96 years old, pronounced it “superb.”


Did anyone notice that Kathleen Kennedy, of the Hyannis port clan, produced this film, as startling for its black and white artwork as for its candid message?


The Redwood Library, the country’s oldest lending library, continued its spring lecture series with a saucy and learned talk on the great Courtesans of France – “cocottes”, as French scholar and lecturer Joan Rosasco called them. I attended, and sat next to Sergey Sikorsky, man about town and sailor, grandson of Igor Sikorsky, the developer of the helicopter, who asked the great question of the evening about the women who were “cocottes.”


I’ve always thought that our rock and rap stars fulfilled the role that shamans held in primitive societies. The lecture showed that the French courtesans – “cocottes” -- were the international rock stars of their era, with entourages, splendid jewels, and retinues of admirers. One renowned courtesan, Otero, had a 30th birthday celebration at which 5 royal gentleman – all her patrons – were present. Wretched excess!


NewportSeen’s Paris correspondent, Jana Jagoe, told me what a “cocolette” was: a courtesan with somewhat less distinguished patrons than the greats. This she heard on a gallery tour in Paris at the Musee Galiera de la Mode from the distinguished Thierry Herselin, art auctioneer and critic with Christie's, Paris. If you travel to Paris, seek him out, and do not miss the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Grand Palais. Did you know he kept his head shaved and wore a wig after he lost his own mane, reports Jana?

Joan Rosasco with the bed she called “a French national monument”,
The bed belonged to “cocotte” Valtesse de la Bigne. (She made up that first name that sounds like "Votre altesse", or "Your Highness" ). The bed was commissioned from a good furniture maker, Edouard Lièvre, and apparently cost 50,000 francs. It is in now the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Casper Roos and Joan Rosasco at the Redwood Library

 Newport is mourning the important Newporters that we lost over the winter. You can read about the funeral of revered Senator Claiborne Pell on the NewportSeen’s history page. Eileen Slocum, the doyenne of Newport Society and Republican stalwart, passed away this winter, as did Ralph Carpenter, the remarkable lover of Newport architecture and amanuensis to Rockwell Stensrud on his encyclopedic publication of Newport’s history, “Newport: A Lively Experiment 1639 – 1969”. Mr. Carpenter was 96. They leave spaces in our hearts, and in our historic city, that cannot be filled.











Past Headlines

Jessica Hagen Gallery Heralds Spring with James Coe Exhibit

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Two Private Soirées in Elegant, Historic Newport Homes

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Fifth Annual Daffodillion a Blooming Success: Spring Fling a Sellout

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