On my visit to Ocean House, the drawing on the lunch menu caught my eye. It seemed to be the work of a favorite artist of mine, Ludwig Bemelmans. Hotelier, restaurateur, bon vivant, Bemelmans created the “Madeline” children’s books (which he first sketched in 1938 on the back of a menu in Pete’s Tavern in New York’s Gramercy Park), and his murals of Central Park grace the walls of Bemelmans Bar in The Carlyle hotel.
It turns out that Ocean House’s owners, Chuck and Deborah Royce, share my love for Bemelmans. Several of the works they own, including the paintings Bemelmans did for his Parisian restaurant, La Colombe, and Madeline panels commissioned by Aristotle Onassis for his daughter’s room on his yacht, are currently in an exhibition marking Madeline’s 75th anniversary, “Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans,” at the New-York Historical Society through October 19.