I’m confronted with wonderful memories of the many times, over the more than two decades I’ve written for The New Criterion, that I was fortunate enough to spend with Hilton. I hear his high, light voice, with its occasional New England inflections, recounting one of his often scurrilous, meticulously honed art world anecdotes. I cherish Hilton’s story about his traveling to Texas to see Henri Matisse’s View of Nôtre-Dame (1914)—the ravishing expanse of brushy blue with the iconic shape of the church evoked with a few bold lines, some scratching, and a halo of black. At the time, the painting, now at the Museum of Modern Art, was little known; newly released by the Matisse heirs, it had just been acquired by a Houston collector, presumably for eventual donation to the Museum of Fine Arts. But, Hilton recalled, guests arriving at the collector’s home for a first...


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