Scene Last Night: Mars, Robert Duvall, Hopper, Bucksbaum

“I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t fascinated by Munnings,” said Jacqueline Mars, co-owner of Mars Inc.

She was referring to Alfred Munnings, the early 20th-century British painter of country life and equestrian scenes whose career was celebrated last night at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg, Virginia. Mars is vice chairman of the board.

Once a passionate equestrian, Mars said she no longer rides but still enjoys looking at horses, especially in the works of Munnings. The library’s current exhibition is “Munnings: Out in the Open,” open through September.

Mars invested in the film “Summer in February,” about the late artist’s turbulent marriage. The film stars “Downton Abbey’s” Dan Stevens, who was unable to attend last night.

Guests including actor Robert Duvall, former Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia screened the film, which will make its debut in the U.K. in June. British Ambassador Peter Westmacott said he has a bust of Munnings in his Washington residence.

Private investor Ronald Bradley and his wife, Danielle, sponsors of the evening along with Mars, admired “Whipper on a Grey Hunter,” a 1913 work they loaned to the library for the exhibition.

Sheila Johnson, founder and chief executive of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, said she was busy producing a film of her own, “The Butler,” starring Oprah Winfrey, about White House butler Eugene Allen, coming to theaters later this year.

A dinner of game pie with rabbit and guinea fowl was served on tables decorated with horse brushes and painting utensils in a heated tent to ward off the spring chill. The desserts were horse-shaped sugar cookies and bowls of colorful confections donated by Mars.

Corcoran Gallery

When Senator Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, needs art advice he relies on Columbia Capital partner Harry Hopper and his daughter Eliza, an art-history major.

Warner was Hopper’s guest at Friday night’s 58th annual Corcoran Ball at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Hopper is chairman of the board and is an avid art collector. He owns pieces by Donald Sultan and is especially proud of his works by “emerging artists.”

“I collect books. It’s cheaper,” said Congressman Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, from the dance floor, near a jazz band.

Shooting Stars

Pop Art flowers in pinks and oranges hung from the ceiling in honor of the museum’s current exhibition “Shooting Stars: Publicity Stills from Early Hollywood and Portraits by Andy Warhol.”

Spring lobster and Australian lamb were served followed by peanut butter and jelly cupcakes. The event’s 700 guests raised more than $700,000

Melva Bucksbaum

Art patron Melva Bucksbaum celebrated her 80th birthday with about 600 guests at her home in the Litchfield County town of Sharon, Connecticut, yesterday.

Guests included art dealer Mary Boone, collectors Mera and Don Rubell, Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and his counterpart at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Adam Weinberg. They gathered in a white tent where mini cupcakes formed a large tower and balloons hung in midair.

The occasion also marked Bucksbaum’s curatorial debut for an exhibition titled “The Distaff Side” with works by more than 100 female artists drawn from the private collection of Bucksbaum and her husband, Raymond Learsy.

The show takes over the couple’s private museum, The Granary, and stars pieces by Marina Abramovic, Louise Bourgeois and Jenny Holzer as well as a host of emerging and mid-career artists.

“It’s the first show I have ever curated so I am incredibly nervous,” said Bucksbaum. “I wish I had a shot of vodka before coming here.”

(Stephanie Green and Katya Kazakina are writers for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Elin McCoy on wine, Jeremy Gerard on theater.

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