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Embracing Politics and Art Is a Milstein Tradition

D.C. denizen Connie Milstein has invested a great deal of time and effort into turning her Georgetown home into a beauty to behold and a wonder to explore.  

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The philanthropist and political booster, who played host to Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand, D-N.Y., Monday evening , has an eye for detail that is apparent throughout her carefully appointed domicile.  

One gets the feeling that every single element spread throughout has been given incredible consideration, from the mythological beings that silently keep watch over the premises,  

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

   

To the sassy seat cushions that encourage self-medication. ("Keep calm and have a cocktail" sounds like sage advice to us.)    

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

   

Two of the most striking pieces in her formidable collection share a fascinating origin story; they are miniatures of pieces that Danish artist Bjørn Okholm Skaarup, her son-in-law, has displayed all over the world.  

   

(Warren Roas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Roas/CQ Roll Call)

   

“It’s whimsical,” a fellow party-goer said while sizing up the foot-high versions of "Hippo Columbine" and "Rhino Harlequin Skaarup" recreated for Milstein.  

   

(Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

   

“They were inspired by a famous piece by Edward Degas," Skaarup said of the anthropomorphized ballerina and jester (respectively) culled from his collection.  

The heartwarming duo are but one example of his ongoing series of animal-themed sculpture.  

   

(Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

   

Skaarup, who maintains an art foundry in Florence, Italy, and currently has an installation at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Italy, said some of his work has also made the rounds here in D.C.  

His wife, native-born Joanna Milstein, a fellow art historian who also works in Florence, credits her mother with instilling in her a burning passion for the arts. “She brought me to museums all over the world,” Joanna said, recalling a particularly impressive tour of the Louvre she took at around age 8. Joanna most recently capitalized on all that cumulative knowledge by publishing her first book, “The Gondi: Family Strategy and Survival in Early Modern France ,” a deep dive into the influence the Italians had on Gallic culture.  

Although both are well established academics, the pair, who met at a Renaissance society conference, continue to elicit giggles whenever they share how they got together.  

“People are always like, ‘Oh, you met at a RenFair?’ And then we have to explain that we don’t dress up or anything,” Joanna quipped, shooting down the notion of any involvement with historical cosplayers.  

   

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