Madeline and Me

Madeline and Me

Madeline at the Paris Flower Market, 1955


If you are, or were a fan of the precious Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans, don’t miss Madeline in New York: the Art of Ludwig Bemelmans on view at the New-York Historical Society through Oct. 19. While the tales of Bemelmans himself— a self-made artist and writer who arrived in New York at the age of 16 from Germany—are colorful and entertaining, it was the sketches and paintings from the Madeline series of books that sent me on a sweet journey back into childhood, bringing back those delicious times of lying on my bed, devouring the adventures of the little girl living at a boarding school in Paris, who could never quite stay in that straight line. There was Madeline in London, at the Queen’s coronation; at the White House in New York; getting into trouble at the circus; Madeline’s visit to the zoo; and so much more. It was engaging backdrop to hear of Bemelmans big life, working in the hotel business in New York, becoming a bon vivant about town, friends with the gangsters and millionaires and the world-famous (Jackie Kennedy was a fan, as was Aristotle Onassis, who had Bemelmans paint several murals for the children’s playroom aboard his yacht The Christina). But I was there for that small little girl, the patient but often-tried Miss Clavel, and a delightful trip back to my childhood bedroom in Brooklyn, whose bookcases were filled with Bemelmans Madeline books.

» The New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, 170 Central Park West, 212.873.3400

Photo: Madeline at the Paris Flower Market, 1955, The Estate of Ludwig Bemelmans TM and ©Ludwig Bemelmans, LLC