Last year, we visited Washington, D.C. and while there, saw the National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden. The Hubs and I were on a double date for the day with two of our favorite friends, Sharon and Chad. Sharon really wanted to see The Hope Diamond and so we started off at the Smithsonian National Museum of History.
The most famous diamond in the world -- and apparently, only the Mona Visa draws more visitors.
At the Natural History Museum, it was a bit surreal to also see one of the Easter Island statues. (The Hubs had an altogether different reaction. He thought Dum Dum might want some Gum Gum. Sigh.) It was the National Gallery after that. It houses one of the finest collections in the world with paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from artists such as Raphael, Lippi, Pollock and Rothko to name a few. They also have a gorgeous wide atrium with columns that’s quite a site to see. Unfortunately, a few of my photographs came out shaky (no tripods and this was before my new anti-shake camera) but here are a few gems.
The frame and a bit of a Lippi masterpiece.
The only Leonardo da Vinci in America. It is entitled "Ginevra de' Benci" and unfortunately, was reduced in size at one point in its history.
This is "Naiad" by Antonio Canova. She is exquisite.
Close-up of a gorgeous William Turner named “Mortlake Terrace”. Here is the full view.
Beautiful faux woodgrain to hide the unmentionables. Love to spy those!
Speaking of wood, this is a sculpture made out of one full piece. It is of Saint John of the Cross and it is polychromed, gilded and attributed to Francisco Antonio Gijón.
At the Sculpture Garden, there are many incredible works of art ranging from the headless and disquieting (above, Puellae (Girls) by Magdalena Abakanowicz) to the whimsical (below, Thinker on a Rock by Barry Flanagan).
We ended up at the Smithsonian Castle.
Within it was what was once the Children’s Room. In 1899, Grace Lincoln Temple was commissioned to design it and it was a beautiful place for children for nearly 45 years. After that, it was painted over and used for sorely needed storage space and remained that way until it was restored in 1985. Here you can see Smithsonian conservator Ron Cunningham uncovering the original ceiling mural. You can see the restoration below.
Close-up of the stencil border.
The original idea for the ceiling was to re-create a fresco by Correggio in Parma, Italy, in which “playful cherubs peered down at the viewer through a leafy arbor”. It was cost-prohibitive and so an inspired variation was designed. Ms. Temple’s design encompassed a fanciful trellis with grapevines and birds perched against an blue sky. Do click here to read more of the fascinating story and see here for a pic of Ms. Temple and an artist at work.
I must go and take more complete pics with the new camera! hope you’ve enjoyed this day tour. D.C. has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to museums, decorative arts and interesting places to visit and eat. I love visiting at least once per year. I have covered both the Library of Congress (Part One and Part Two) as well as the U.S. Capitol before. I do have more D.C. jewels coming up — including Whistler’s Peacock Room. Have a fantastic weekend!
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