Small Moments of Happiness: August 2020

The staircase at Hillwood Mansion and Museum. The late owner, Mrs. Post, bought many Russian art pieces from her time as the ambassador’s wife to the USSR.

I’m glad August is almost behind us. While I try to find something good in the everyday, it’s really hard to sit back and relax when the world around me is on fire. There was yet another shooting of an unarmed Black man by police. He is alive but paralyzed from the waist down. I can’t in all good conscience sit here and count my blessings when so many families are suffering from so much tragedy. That said, I did find the Democratic National Convention hopeful. It gave me hope for what is to come this November. My favorite part about the DNC was the roll call. If you want to virtually travel across the US and territories, then please watch this amazing roll call.

I also visited two museums in August, the National Gallery of Art (see a short tour here) and Hillwood Mansion and Museum. It was wonderful to meander through near-empty rooms admiring art. I won’t do it again anytime soon, but these two excursions should tide me over until there is a vaccine.

How are you? Are you slowly venturing outside again?

xoxo, Jane

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

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

Thursday Reading Links #49

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This is a portrait, oil on canvas, of Mrs. George Watson, the second wife of a very wealthy merchant. You can tell she is wealthy because she lives in the US, yet she is holding a vase of tulips imported from Holland and her pink dress is based on the latest fashion from London. By  John Singleton Copley, 1765. National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Grab your cup of tea, a comfortable chair and happy reading! There is no rhyme or reason to today’s reading links.

17 Jokes Only People Who Speak French Will Get. Haha, this is cute!

A lot of bad things happen to women in books.

When America’s Most Famous Monthly Took on Its Most Famous Tycoon.

Mysteries That’ll End a Reading Slump. Have you read any of them?

The Connection Between Jane Austen’s Emma and Amélie. I never thought about this before, but it makes sense.

Nazi name lists in Argentina may reveal loot in Swiss bank.

You Had Me at the Title. “People often ask me what I’m reading and sometimes I forget. What’s the name of that book again? But then some book titles stick to my brain like a gecko clinging to a wall. They take root inside me and often the book itself proves to be just as unforgettable.”

20 of the Best Castles in Scotland.

And on a very serious note, women with endometriosis ‘finally being believed.’

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #32

photo of cat lying on bed

Well, it may be fall but it feels like winter in my neck of the woods. Stay warm and cozy, wherever you may be. 

Libraries to boycott publisher’s e-book policy

My recent quarterly reading wrap-up can be found here and here.

This is so dear. Fake chimneys for birds that need vertical hollows to rest.

Marie Antoinette’s Favorite Things You Can Still Buy Today.

Did you know that Danielle Steel has a blog? And she updates regularly.

Cute To Go Tea Mug

In praise of having a “boring” wardrobe. (This is from The Telegraph and there may be a log-in required if you exceeded your free articles per month.)

The best pore-cleansing toners and the best new face washes

On this day in 1916, Jeannette Rankin from Montana became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She was one of the few suffragists elected to Congress, and the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II. 

It never ceases to amaze me that we have such incredible art right here in my city of Washington, D.C., such as this historic painting of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David. The National Gallery of Art published a wonderful publication about French paintings of the 19th century and can be read here for free. 

November babies, I guess life is more interesting as a Scorpio

xoxo, Jane

Image via Pexels.com

 

Thursday Reading Links #30

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Today it’s a little bit of book news, a little bit of art news, a little bit of royals and a little bit of military history. Happy Reading!

Did you hear that another painting stolen by the Nazis has been recovered? Bravo to the person who recognized the stolen artwork.

I was not expecting so much controversy about the France 2024 Olympics logo. Personally, I love it. What do you think?

If you are a royal watcher like me, you might enjoy reading this article from Reuters about the heir to the Japanese throne. The current Emperor doesn’t have any sons, so his younger brother is next in line and after that his young son. The Emperor does have a daughter. A very lovely and intelligent daughter. But because she is female she may not ascend to the throne. I have thoughts on this that I’ll keep to myself.

The BBC has a fun article on rewatching old films.

Another interesting piece by the BBC, how art created stereotypes of the Arab world.

gray magnifying glass and eyeglasses on top of open book

This is so true: if indie bookstores want to be inclusive, they need to highlight romance.

Fortnum’s timeline: the first 312 years. This was so much fun to read. I love Fortnums!

I need to live inside this old manor house. I can picture me drinking my Fortnums tea in the garden.

Quiz: Which Classic Mystery Should You Read? I took the quiz and my answer was And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

Helen Mirren’s Costumes in ‘Catherine the Great’ Are a Gorgeous History Lesson.

The Monuments Men (and WOMEN) are back!!

Feminize Your Canon: Iris Origo.

 

Images via Pexels.com

 

Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

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One of my favorite paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is Young Girl Reading (or The Reader) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 – 1806). I love it so much that I have a replica in my study.

Why do I love it? I’m drawn to it because as a reader I find peace in the young woman. She is leaning against a plush pillow while reading a captivating story. It makes me happy whenever I glance at it.

The muted colors are soothing and beautiful. I never knew yellow, mauve and lavender could go so well together.

I wanted to know the story behind the painting (if there was one) and paid a visit to NGA’s website. There isn’t a mystery surrounding this painting. It’s simply described as “a representation of a demure model in a lemon-yellow dress seated at a window ledge.” But I finally learned the artist’s name, Jean-Honoré Fragonard. (It’s awful to admit, but all these years I only cared about the girl in the painting and never bothered to learn the artist’s name.)

The first thing that came to mind when I learned the name was the perfumer Fragonard, based in Grasse, France. Fragonard (the artist) was from Grasse and when Fragonard (the company) established itself in 1926, they decided to name the company after their most famous resident, “as a tribute to both the town of Grasse and to the refinement of 18th-century arts.”

And there you have it. A little story about a beautiful painting that took me down a rabbit hole.

Do you have a favorite painting? Or one that you are drawn to for one reason or another?

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #24

woman turning around on green fields
Photo by Jackson David on Pexels.com

This week has been a bit of a blur because everyone in my house is sick, including yours truly. Let’s hope for an illness-free weekend for us and you!

xoxo, Jane

2019 Guide to Paris in the Fall.

Leonardo da Vinci may have pained another ‘Mona Lisa.’ Now, there’s a legal battle over who owns it.

Another Nazi-looted painting is discovered.

25 Best Georgette Heyer Quotes.

This is so cool! Ahh, memories! Sony releases a Walkman for its 40th anniversary.

The Fall Bag Trend You Will See Everywhere This Season. I don’t know…I’m not sure I’m a fan. What do you think?

I need to pick up some of these writer habits. Habits of Highly Effective Writers.

You’d think you were reading a spy thriller, but it’s very much non-fiction. Russia investigated disappearance of suspected US spy as possible murder.