PAUL MELLON: IN HIS OWN WORDS (MILL REEF and SEA HERO)
The film captures the gentle nature and wisdom of an extraordinary man. Paul Mellon's visionary leadership of the National Gallery of Art spanned more than six decades, from 1938 until his death in 1999. During that time he watched over and nurtured the museum's growth from a single grand building to a mature institution with two monumental structures, a sculpture garden and a world-class collection.
As a scion of the legendary Mellon family of billionaire philanthropists, Paul Mellon distinguished himself as one of the most prominent artistic benefactors in the world. This biographical profile pays reverential homage to Mellon with an overview of his life shown in rarely seen Mellon family archival photographs from his childhood as dynastic heir through his remarkable achievement as an adult in founding, commissioning and overseeing the construction of the National Gallery in 1941. The program then uses time-lapse photography to provide a spectacular chronicle of the facility's evolution over the years, capped off by archival footage that depicts the dedication ceremony at the museum, where Mellon made his first public speech.
"Paul Mellon: In His Own Words" follows the Gallery's benefactor from his childhood to his ascendance on the world stage as one of America's greatest collectors and philanthropists. The film begins with rare movie images taken from the Mellon archives of young Paul playing with his beloved sister, Ailsa, and also on horseback on the family farm.
When his father, Andrew W. Mellon, died in 1937, Paul Mellon stepped up to the public stage to finish his father's greatest philanthropic project, construction of the National Gallery of Art.
Although still a young man, Paul Mellon sustained his father's visionary leadership and oversaw the construction and opening of the original National Gallery of Art building - now known as the West Building - in March 1941. Time-lapse images witness the construction from an excavated crater to a completed, gleaming structure. Built entirely with Mellon funds and filled with art owned by the Mellon family, the National Gallery was a gift to the nation - one family's direct statement regarding the importance of art in society. Many other donors followed Mellon's lead, giving portions of their collections to America's art gallery. Archival newsreel film presents the dedication ceremony, in which Mellon made his first public speech.
Mellon championed the National Gallery of Art, spending almost six decades as a trustee and acting as vice-president, president, and chairman for 25 of those years. With his sister, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, he donated more than 1,000 works of art and established numerous trusts and endowments that further the study and conservation of art to this day. The Mellons also paid for the construction of the East Building, designed by I.M. Pei, which Paul Mellon described as the one "great work of art" that he commissioned. In the documentary, Pei sketches the proposed design of the building, and is seen on-site, coordinating with the construction company. Even after his retirement from the National Gallery in 1985, Mellon remained involved and generous.
Paul Mellon's marriage to Mary Conover Brown ended in 1946 when she died after a severe asthma attack. Mellon was left to raise their two children, Cathy and Tim.
Later, Mellon married Rachel Lambert Lloyd, better known as Bunny, and together they developed a passion for collecting art. As noted in the film, Paul Mellon once said of collecting, "If I have any rule...it is not to have a painting with too many cows, or too many windmills. Pictures...are more than decorative, they become companions and friends." According to the film, his philosophy of collecting was not to find paintings that would prove to be a good investment, but rather he wanted ones that, "...remind me consciously or unconsciously of some past thought, feeling, moment of pleasure or even of sadness...Like the poetry of Wordsworth, it is 'emotion recollected in tranquility.'"
Paul Mellon's love of horses dated back to his childhood. "I bought my first racehorse in 1933, two years after I came home from Cambridge. My father was quick to say that 'any damn fool knows that one horse can run faster than another." Mellon owned and bred one of the greatest racehorses of all time, MILL REEF, who was campaigned strictly in Europe. Another horse that he bred and owned, SEA HERO, won the 1993 Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes. The documentary offers dramatic footage of each horse in action, and rare images revealing Mellon's obvious enchantment with the equine racing world. With classic modesty, Mellon once said, "Over the years, I've bred some very good horses, but a hundred years from now, the only place my name will turn up anywhere will be in the studbook, for I was the breeder of MILL REEF."
|Format(s) Available:||DVD And VHS|
|Category:||U.S. & Canadian Flat Racing|