Monday, June 13, 2011

Boston's Gem: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum


Celebrate New England Giveaway, Post #2. Leave a comment and enter to win!



Boston's Gem: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by Victoria Morgan



One can't truly celebrate New England, as Penelope is doing this week, without a shout out to Boston's own Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Tucked away in the Fenway district of the city, the Gardner Museum is one of Boston's greatest gems. Unique, enriching and dazzling!

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-19240) was one of the foremost female patrons of the art during her lifetime. For over three decades, she traveled the world to amass one of the most remarkable collections of fine art and decorative artifacts existing today. Her acquisitions include over 2,500 paintings, sculptures, textiles, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts, and rare books.


Titian, Rembrandt, Raphael, Degas, Boticelli, and Sargent, and many more of the great art masters grace her walls. However, Gardner considered her acquisition of Titian's Europa (1560-62) her greatest find (above). The painting depicts Jupiter disguised as a bull and abducting Europa, who appears both frightened and excited. The museum's audiotape asks the patron to decide if Europa's stance makes her complicit in her abduction or not.... While this may be Gardner's favorite, I am drawn to John Singer Sargent's El Jaleo (1882) depicted below. This painting with its vibrant Spanish gypsy dancer graces the end of a long hallway known as the Spanish cloister and brings it alive with movement, vitality and excitement. You feel as if the dancer will spin out into the room.



The museum is particularly unique for its backdrop of the works is a magnificent three-story building constructed to look like a 15th century Venetian-style palace. Gardner personally designed each gallery herself and to bring light into the concrete building, she had the rooms surround a central courtyard housing a luscious garden. Touring the museum with Penelope, who has a degree in botany and a gifted green thumb, Penelope reminded me that not all of the museum's art is on the walls or inanimate, but flowering in this incredible courtyard. She pointed out the myriad of different ferns, flowers, and other exotic plants that the museum rotates as each season changes.

While touring the treasure trove of works, it is hard not to be shocked when one encounters the glaringly empty frames that housed some of the thirteen works of art stolen March 18, 1990 and that are still yet to be recovered. The museum's audio defines the theft as a 'crime against humanity' and I have to agree. Of those taken, Rembrandt's Sea of Galilee (1633) was Rembrandt's only seascape ever painted, and Vermeer's The Concert (1658-1660) is one of only 34 surviving Vermeer's. Isabella Stewart Gardner opened the museum "for the education and enrichment of the public forever," and the theft's greatest crime is the loss of these works to public view.

So when you make that coveted trip to Boston, be sure to include the Gardner Museum -- it won't disappoint. And for your next visit, the Museum of Fine Arts is right around the corner. Their new $500 million Art of the America's Wing opened this year to critical acclaim. In the Globe's recent review of the launch, they stated the wing was named the year's "outstanding permanent collection new installation (or reinstallation)" by the Association of Art Museum Curators.

But that's for another blog.....


Victoria Morgan
RWA Golden Heart Finalist 2011

16 comments:

Natascha said...

I'm back.
This museum sounds amazing. It will be a stop the next time I'm in Bean town.

Penelope said...

Vicki and I went to the Gardner last Friday...it is such an incredible place. The history about ISG, the whole art theft story, and the space itself which is astounding. One of the coolest spots in Bean Town!

Susan said...

I have never been to Boston but I have heard of this museum. What a beautiful place.

Amber Skyze said...

The DH and I plan to go to a Red Sox game over our vacation. I must insist on the museum too, seeing as how I've never been!

Bex said...

I am so glad you guys shared this post! I am fascinated by the Gardner and have always wanted to go, but have yet to make the trip. I love the MFA and it sounds like I have another, new reason to get back up to Boston to check both museums out.

barbara said...

The art you've shared in this post is breathtaking! I will definitely visit the Gardner Museum on my next trip to Boston.

Thanks for sharing!

bimmergrlmd at gmail dot com

Shirley Ann Howard said...

I first went here as an impressionable pre-teen. My sister, who was attending college in Boston, took me and explained the history and architecture. Her favorite story was about "the pearls." This experience began my lifelong love of Boston's rich culture.

Blodeuedd said...

It does sound like a great museum :) I'd love to visit

Dalton Diaz said...

Wish I could have gone. I'm embarrassed to say I've never been there!

Barbara said...

How beautiful. Your amazing blog is such a tease, this is now on the Must Do list. Thank you

Jennifer Mathis said...

wow I want to go visit

meandi09@yahoo.com

Penelope said...

I love the MFA, too....it's another amazing spot in Boston. But the Gardner is really special because of the building itself....it is so romantic, with the courtyard filled with flowers and the windows/balconies opening up onto this light, airy space. It is truly phenomenal.

Kym said...

I will need to get to Boston to go to the museum ! There is so much wonderful history in Bean town !

kym

Di said...

How pretty - love the hidden gems of cities! Has to be on my list to visit in Boston. Fingers crossed for print books - I'm not e-enabled yet.

sallans d at yahoo dot com

donnas said...

That is definitely a crime. I really do hope they are recovered one day and not truly lost. And that courtyard is amazing. I could just sit there for an afternoon and peacefully read.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Penelope said...

The contest is now closed. Winners announced soon!