Sunday, January 31, 2016

Treasures of the National Gallery

Today let's take a quick tour of the National Gallery in Washington D.C.  The National Gallery of Art was given to the people of the United States by Andrew W. Mellon who became Secretary of the Treasury in 1921.  He believed that the U.S. should have a national art museum the same as other great nations.  He wrote to President Roosevelt saying that he would donate his sizable collection of art in order to create such a museum and further, would build the building to house it with his own money.  Construction began in 1937 and completed in 1940.  It was dedicated in 1941 with Paul Mellon, Andrew's son presenting the museum to the public.

The massive entrance to the museum under the rotunda is centered by a huge fountain with a statue of Mercury taking the center spot.  When I visited it was December so the flowers surrounding the fountain were beautiful red and white poinsettias.

The National Gallery is the home to the one and only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in America.  It is a portrait of Ginevra de Benci, a 16 year old model.

This nude statue by Auguste Rodin was first exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1877 where it created a bit of controversy because people accused Rodin of casting the statue from a live model instead of sculpting it.  Rodin denied the accusations but the controversy worked to his benefit because people were eager to see the statue for themselves.

Walking from one room to the next, I was struck by Whistler's grand portrait called "Symphony in White, No. 1".  It is a portrait of a young woman standing on a polar bear rug against a white curtain while dressed in white herself.

The fountain room on the west side of the gallery is adorned with a fountain topped with two cherubs.  There are numerous benches in this area and people take advantage of this quiet place to rest for a bit.

I was struck by this marble sculpture called "Head of Bull" by Gaetano Monti of Milan.  I liked all the exceptional details down to hairs on the face and in the ears.

And, of course I had to stop for a look at the Edward Hopper painting called "Cape Cod Evening".  I'm a huge fan of Edward Hopper so I look for his paintings in galleries wherever I go.

This painting of sunflowers might make you think of Vincent Van Gogh but, it is in fact a painting by Monet called "Jerusalem Artichokes"

I hope you enjoyed this quick little spin around the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  It's an impressive museum with many, many wonderful things to see.


Lowell said...

I've never been here and never much thought about it; knew even less. So thank you very much for sharing. I'll have to put this place on my "bucket" list, which is growing rather long and time is growing rather short. Yikes!

William Kendall said...

Magnificent architecture! The Leonardo and the Monet particularly appeal to me. I don't think we've got an Edward Hopper up here, but the mood of that painting stands out too.

Halcyon said...

Nice look at the highlights. Is this also where the drawing of G. Washington that was used for the dollar bill is?

Catalyst said...

I took one afternoon away from a job in D.C. to tour the gallery many years ago. I was amazed to walk into one of the rooms and find that every painting was by one of the Old Masters. (Sorry, I can't remember which one.) But a very impressive place.