Thursday Reading Links #72 (Some art for your soul.)

A silk needlework Coat of Arms of the Williams and Bell families of Boston, currently on view at the National Gallery of Art.

Today’s reading links are about the exhibits during my recent visit to the National Gallery of Art. The NGA is one of my favorite museums in Washington, D.C. and it’s open with advanced, timed tickets. The museum did an excellent job of controlling the crowd size.

Visitors had access to the ground floor galleries of the West Building, which allowed me to view the Rodin sculptures, the Degas at the Opéra exhibit and the ongoing Masterpieces of American Furniture exhibit. It was glorious!

I was charmed by this Manet painting. Flowers in a Crystal Vase, c.1882.

I was charmed by this Manet painting. I love the pink, blue and maroon color scheme in the bouquet. It may have been painted in 1882, but this is something we’d see in our homes today. Pretty and timeless.

Vines Seen through a Window, oil on paper. Max Hauschild, German, 1810-1895

I took some time to study this painting. I love the peek into nature. It’s a perfect prelude to the end of summer and start of autumn. I wonder if the artist conjured it out of his mind or if he was inspired after visiting a friend’s home. It’s on loan to the NGA from the Fondation Custodia in Paris and since I can’t be in Paris right now then at least the European paintings can come to me.

Study of a Tree, French(?), 19th Century. Private Collection London

Last painting, I promise. Out of all the paintings on display during my recent visit to the NGA, this painting is my favorite. It’s just so beautiful and peaceful. I’d love it if this was a wallpaper for my house. It belongs to a private collection in London and the artist is unknown. Thank you so much to the generous person for loaning their masterpiece to the NGA. How beautiful is this?

I hope you take some time out of your day to smell the roses and enjoy the small pleasures of life.

xoxo, Jane

A Stroll in the Garden

A few days ago, I grabbed my mask and left the house for a walk. Specifically, a walk through a garden because I wanted (needed) to be surrounded by greenery and flowers.

A peek of the house through the tree branches.

I paid a visit to the garden of the Lee-Fendall House. Luckily, I was the only visitor, so it was an extra special treat. The Lee-Fendall House was, for several generations, the home of the Lee Family. If you haven’t heard of them, they were (are) an old Virginia family.

I stumbled upon this memorial to Mrs. Eleanor Fendall, a daughter of the Lee family.
Mrs. Eleanor Fendall’s tombstone.

Some family members were signers of the American Declaration of Independence. Later some members (Confederate General Robert E. Lee) fought on the losing side of the American Civil War.

The Union Army turned their property into a hospital for wounded soldiers. By 1904, the home left the possession of the Lee Family. Today, the house is a testament to 19th century and early 20th century history.

A brick path surrounds the garden.

It was calming and peaceful to be there. I kept thinking of Miss Bingley telling Lizzie Bennet, “Let us take a turn about the room.” I also thought of Lizzie and how enamored she was of the gardens at Pemberley.

The back view of the house.

It was nice to “take a turn” about the garden and to enjoy everything without feeling rushed.

There were benches throughout the garden. Next time, I’m returning with a book.

xoxo, Jane

My Favorite Museum Guidebooks

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Museums worldwide are doing a fabulous job of keeping us entertained, informed and connected through their online programs and exhibits. It’s a wonderful diversion during these troubling times, that’s for sure.

Am I the only one who loves to purchase museum guidebooks after a visit? I don’t do it for every museum, just for those very special museums.

Here are three of my favorite museum guidebooks. Be sure to share your favorite museum guidebooks in the comments.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I could live inside the Met. Since that’s not possible, their website has countless exhibits, paintings and articles to enjoy, such as this fun online exhibit about their new British Galleries. The Met is amazing for many reasons. One reason is that it represents 5000 years of art. Blows my mind.

The guidebook I bought is like holding the museum in my hands. It’s filled with paintings, decorative arts, photographs and articles to explain each object. Plus it’s a beautiful book.

I bought my book a number of years ago with an introduction by a previous Met director, but a quick glance online shows me that the guidebooks have been updated with a new introduction by the Met’s new director. In case you care about such things, the current director is Max Hollein. He has been the director since 2018 and hails from Austria. I digress, if you could buy only one museum guidebook, it should be this one.

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is pretty special. It was created because of a major donation from Andrew W. Mellon. He was Secretary of the Treasury under four US presidents and firmly believed that the United States should have a national museum devoted to art, just like the European capitals. Mellon purchased 21 spectacular masterpieces from the Hermitage Museum in Russia and in 1937 donated them to the Federal Government with the aim of opening this museum. History aside, this museum has one of my favorite paintings by Da Vinci, Ginevra de’ Benci. I look forward to visiting her again when Covid-19 is far, far behind us. It appears that my guidebook isn’t for sale anymore (it’s a very old copy), but this is their newer version.

Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum needs no introduction from me. It has pieces dating back to 8000 BC and I cannot comprehend that, it’s so incredible. In five visits, I have yet to see everything.

I’m sure there are a gazillion different guidebooks for the Louvre Museum, but I own a thin copy bought many years ago during my first trip to France. It holds a special place in my heart because I love Paris and the Louvre Museum so much. For a smallish book, it’s quite comprehensive and satisfies my desire to read a little bit about everything. I don’t think my book is for sale anymore, but I believe this is a similar version with an updated cover.

I hope you enjoyed a tour of my three favorite museum guidebooks. Have a great weekend (whatever a weekend is anymore)!

xoxo, Jane

Virtual Museum Tours

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Spring is nigh.

There is so much anxiety right now (me!). The unknown can be unsettling, to say the least. I would normally wander around a museum to ease worries or anxiety,  but since I (most of us) can’t do that, I thought I’d share my three favorite museums with you. You can enjoy these virtual tours from the comfort of your home and with a nice cup of tea.

Hillwood Mansion and Museum

Hillwood Mansion and Museum is a delight. It was the home of Marjorie Post (of Post Cereal). The mansion is filled with decorative arts (such as Faberge, jewels and her fashionable wardrobe), paintings and multiple gardens to dream about. The current exhibition, Natural Beauties: Exquisite Works of Minerals and Gems, ends in June. I’m especially excited about the upcoming exhibition in June, Roaring Twenties: The Life and Style of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is a gem of a museum. One of the current exhibits is on Degas. Also, the museum has in its collection a Da Vinci painting. If you follow them on Instagram, their stories will take you on tours of each floor. It’s really sweet how much effort the staff is putting into this.

Victoria and Albert Museum

Victoria and Albert Museum is currently open, but those not near London can at least enjoy the collection from the comfort of home. To get you started, they have a collection of gorgeous wallpaper (I love wallpaper), illuminated manuscripts and embroidery.

I hope you visit these museums online. If you do, let me know what you think. If you’d like, feel free to share some of your favorite museums.

xoxo, Jane