Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Neither Rachel nor I had ever been to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. We went today and were enchanted. Yes, it's known for the 2002 theft of art works, the largest theft ever in the US, 3 (I think) Rembrandts, a Vermeer, a Manet and other less well known pieces worth about $300 million. A terrible loss and they remind the visitor by leaving the empty frames hanging as they were.

BUT the Italian villa there on the Fenway enchanted us the minute we walked through the door and totally made us forget the heat and humidity and messy streets around the construction site of a huge addition to the Fine Arts Museum -- which we visited first. What a perfect cloister and interior garden! What lovely marble and tile, what a collection of furniture, artifacts and remaining paintings, including a wasp-waisted [surely corsetted] Isabella painted by John Singer Sargent. A lovely woman who built herself a wonderful home and filled it with asmazing things to look at.

We had seen some memorable and fascinating paintings in the MFA, again many Singer Sargents and a great variety from early Italian to some very modern works. It is a graciously laid out museum. We did not look at many piece from other cultures. Rachel spent a long day at the Smithsonian in Washington in July and, of course, I have had many lengthy visits to the Met in NYC and the fine Brooklyn Art Museum. We knew what we wanted to look at and had a sense of what will expand our knowledge and provide us with experiences to remember. What we will most remember about today, I'm sure, is the grace and serene beauty of the courtyard and cloister at the Gardner. We both feel enriched for the entire day but especially for that new experience.

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