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It was my initial intent to provide full reviews of my recent visits to the Smithsonian, the National Gallery and the Brooklyn Museum, but after putting off this momentous task for the past couple weeks I realized that such an exercise was beyond my capacity, and I just don’t have the time or energy to compose a painstakingly thorough recount of each & every work which struck my interest. I will supply a list of said works for personal reference though.

Those marked with an asterisk were my favorites.
Cut for the sake of Brevity! )

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This past Saturday I visited the New Orleans Museum of Art which hosted some very excellent Italian, French and American galleries. Normally I’d write up and compose a huge review, going into detail about each and every work which sparked my interest, but I no longer feel I’m capable of this task, at least not to the extent I’d like to take it, as it would require way more time than I'm willing to devote. Instead I’ll provide a simple list of notable works and mark in bold those which made an impression on me.

Sebastiano Ricci and Marco Ricci - Imaginary Scene with Ruins and Figures - Italian Renaissance
Alessandro Magnasco - Landscape with Travelers - Italian Renaissance
Luca Giordano - Baptism of Christ - Italian Renaissance
Attributed to Domenico Beccafumi - Venus and Cupid with Vulcan - Italian Renaissance
Giuliano Bugiardini - Saint Sebastian - Italian Renaissance
Antonio Zanchi - Hercules Resisting the Blandishments of Fame - Italian Renaissance
Francesco d'Ubertino, Bacchiacca - Portrait of a Young Lute Player - Italian Renaissance
Luca Camviaso - Vanity of the Earthly Love - Italian Renaissance
Lorenzo Lippi - a Saint Reading - Italian Renaissance
Simone Cantarini - Madonna and Child with a Goldfinch - Italian Renaissance
Sebastiano Conca - Presentaion of the Virgin in the Temple - Italian Renaissance
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - Boy Holding a Book - Italian Renaissance
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - St Joseph and the Christ Child - Italian Renaissance
Francesco Guardi - Esther at the Throne of Ahasuerus - Italian Renaissance
Francesco Solimena - St. Augustine Standing before St Andrew Seated with His Cross - Italian Renaissance
Giovanni Bellini and Vincenzo Catena - Madonna and Child with Saint John and Sain Peter - Italian Renaissance
Benvenuto Tisi - Meditation of Saint Jerome - Italian Renaissance
Girolamo Romanico - Portrait of a Man in Armor - Italian Renaissance
Bernardino Luini - Adoration of the Christ Child and Annunciation to the Shepherds - Italian Renaissance
Unidentified Artist - The Last Supper - Italian Renaissance
Taddeo di Bartolo - A Bishop Blessing - Italian Renaissance
Taddeo di Bartolo - Madonna Nursing - Italian Renaissance
Nicolaes Maes - Portrait of a Lady Adorned with Pearls - Dutch Golden Age
Andries Andriesz Schaeck - The Latest News - Dutch Golden Age
Quiringh van Brekelenkam - Old Woman Scraping Carrots - Dutch Golden Age
Pieter van der Bosch - Kitchen Interior with Woman Scouring Pans - Dutch Golden Age
Hendrick Gerritsz - Scene in a Bordello - Dutch Golden Age
Cornelis de Heem - Still Life with Fruit on a Ledge - Dutch Golden Age
Michel Simons - Still Life of Fruit with Lobster and Dead Game - Dutch Golden Age
Otto Marseus van Schrieck - Serpents and Insects - Dutch Golden Age
Jan Lievens - Portrait of an Old Man - Dutch Golden Age
Jan Mytens - The Martini Family - Dutch Golden Age
Thomas Willeborts Bosschaert - Venus Mourning the Death of Adonis - Dutch Golden Age
Maerten van Heemskerk - Apollo and the Muses - Dutch Golden Age
Adriaen Isenbrant - Virgin Nursing the Christ Child - Flemish
Follower of Barent van Orley - St. Anthony Dispensing Alms - Flemish
Marinus van Reymerswaele - The Lawyer's Office - Flemish
Denis Van Alsloot and Hendrick De Clerck - St. John the Baptist Preaching - Flemish
Simon Vouet - Erato, the Muse of Love Poetry - 17th Century French
Claude Lorrain - Ideal View of Tivoli - 17th Century French
Charles Joseph Natoire - Toilet of Psyche - 18th Century French
Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun - Portrait of Marie Antoinette - 18th Century French
Antonie Francois Callat - Portrait of Louis XIV, King of France - 18th Century French
Henri-Antoine de Favanne - A Bacchanal - 18th Century French
Christophe Huet - Hound Guarding Hunt Trophies - 18th Century French
Francois Boucher - The Surprise - 18th Century French
Jean-Baptiste Joseph Wicar - Portrait of Colonel Antoine-Jean-Auguste-Henri Durosnel - 18th Century French
Baron Antoine-Jean Gros - Napoleon Bonaparte at the Pest House at Jaffa - 18th Century French
Chlaude Joseph Vernet - The Morning, Port Scene - 18th Century French
Hubert Robert - Stairway in the park of an Italian Villa - 18th Century French
Jean-Leon Gerome - Turkish Bashi Bazouk Mercenaries Playing Chess in a Market Place - 19th Century French
Jean-Leon Gerome - The Snake Charmer - 19th Century French
Alexandre-Marie Colin - Othello and Desdemona - 19th Century French
Adolphe-William Bouguereau - Whisperings of Love - 19th Century French
Gustave Dore - The Matterhorn - 19th Century French
Jehan Georges Vibert - The Cardinals' Friendly Chat - 19th Century French
James Tissot - Going to Business - 19th Century French
James Tissot - Terrace of the Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich - 19th Century French
Gaston La Touche - The Masquerade Ball at the Paris Grand Opera - French Impressionists
Giovanni Boldini - Woman in Red - 19th Century Italian
Umberto Boccioni - Unique Forms of Continuity in Space - 20th Century
Rene Magritte - The Love Potion - 20th Century
Max Ernst - Everyone Here Speaks Latin - 20th Century
Benjamin West - Romeo and Juliet - American
John Genin - Pontchartrain Beach - American
John Genin - Sur Bathing, Grand Isle - American
William Henry Buck - Swamp Scene - American
William Henry Buck - Fort Massachusetts, Biloxi, Mississippi - American
Harold Rudolph - Louisiana Bayou - american
Charles Giroux - Louisiana Road Scene - American
Unidentified Maker - Louisiana Swamp - American
Richard Clague - Fisherman's Camp - American
Richard Clague - Back of Algiers - American
Richard Clague - Batture Shanty - American
William Henry Buch - Scene on Lake Pontchartrain near Mandeville, Louisiana - American
William Aiken Walker - Cotton Gin - American
Alexander J. Drysdale - Early Morning in a Louisiana Marsh - American
Knute Heldner - Swamp Scene - American
Knute Heldner - Madonna of the Cane Fields - American
George Loring Brown - Castle San Angelo, Rome - American
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Saturday afternoon I went to the Holland Museum. The museum is renowned for their collection of Dutch paintings located in their upstairs galleries. It’s a modest ensemble of works from relatively obscure artists who were active during the 17th through the 19th century. Some of earlier painters were pupils under big names like Frans Hals or Rembrandt while others came much later and created works inspired by the Dutch Golden Age which had preceded them. Many of the 19th century artists show distinct influences from the French Barbizon movement, such as Johannes Martinus Vrolijk’s Cows at Pasture and George Jan van din Linde’s Dutch Harbor with Windmill, while others obviously were flirting with Impressionism. Of the entire upstairs collection the most interesting piece to me was an excellent marine painting, Shipwreck on Stormy Sea, by George Williem Opdenhoff. There were also some finely rendered yet overwhelmingly sterile royal portraits by Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt. And I must mention the large scale group portrait by Cornelis Engelsz which is apparently only half of the original painting. The other portion is probably somewhere in Amsterdam. As is the painting still shows upwards of 28 Dutch dudes, and based on what I’ve read if it was reunited with the other half it’d probably have around 35 - 55 people.

Keep in mind that in this collection you won’t find any Dutch stables like Jan Steen or Willem Kalf, and sadly I don’t recall one traditional still life. I assume the museum had to work with what had been donated to them, most of which came from a benefactor in San Francisco who very recently announced that he would be pulling most of these contributions to the collection, so I guess this was my last chance to see them before going into private storage.

Downstairs there was a temporary exhibition called Dutch Arcadia which focused on 19th century romantic landscapes from the Beekhuis Collection. I actually preferred these paintings to the ones upstairs, but then again I’m a sucker for landscapes. The standout piece is Johann Bernard Klombeck’s very tonalist Evening Summer Landscape which reminded me of George Inness’s later works. Really wonderful.

Most of the other works in the exhibit mimic the more traditional painting style of the Dutch Golden Age. These should be regarded as partly-imagined landscapes rather than actual depictions of specific places. Of these works the following caught my interest:

Mountainous Landscape with Heavy Trees and a Couple – Alexander Joseph Daiwaille
Monastery – Johannes Wernardus Bilders
Landscape in Gelderland – Lodewijk Johannes Kleijn
View of a Gorge with Figures, Barge and Cottage – Andreas Schelfhout
Wooded Landscape with Children Playing by a Pond – Willem Roelofs
Cows at the Water’s Edge – Dirk Peter van Lokhorst
Horses and Farm Animals near a Ruin – Wouterus Verschuur Sr.
Cattle and Sheep in a River Landscape – Pieter Gerardus van Os

I really enjoy this genre of work, although I have to admit I have a difficult time telling one painter’s work from the other. During the 19th century there must’ve been hundreds upon hundreds of Dutch painters producing these same idealized landscapes. The works consistently showcase a high degree of talent and technical craftsmanship, but the overall vision rarely exceeds that of a simple romantic picture, give or take some livestock or human figures in the foreground, accompanied by perhaps a vast woodland area with a ruin or two in the background. Oh yeah, and then there’s the occasional windmill. This is fine for the first 20 or so paintings but then certain techniques and themes start get redundant. The many metaphors in this genre of Dutch painting could be described as a language in itself, but it’s mostly comprised of painters talking shop with one another. In other words, there’s not a lot for outsides to connect with aside from the pretty scenery. A majority of these works contain a certain timeless aesthetic which would make them excellent decorative pieces for anyone’s home, and that’s about the full extent of their function.

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While in Madison this past Saturday we paid a visit to the Chazen Museum of Art. All week I’d been anxious about seeing their collections. My primary interests were the American and European galleries on the second floor which feature works from 5th century B.C. to the 19th century. There was also a small but impressive exhibit called The Loaded Image: Printmaking as Persuasion on the main floor, but we’ll get to that later.

The first thing I noticed upon reaching the second floor was a beautiful painting of a woman in an elegant yellow dress. From a distance I thought it might’ve been a Sargent, but it was actually a work by Charles Sprague Pearce called The Shawl. Out of all the paintings at the Chazen I think Rani admired this one the most. The woman is in one of those pensive poses which I’ve come to identify with late-19th century painting. She’s not as distraught as one of Dewing’s ladies, but if you murked up the paint a bit and added some nondescript negative space then it’d be a serious contender. This particular gallery also features Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot’s Orpheus Greeting the Dawn or Hymn to the Sun which reminds me of his Dante and Virgil at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Over the past year Corot has quickly become one of my favorite 19th century French painters outside of the Orientalists.

The museum featured some excellent European landscape painting, my favorite being a small work entitled Moonlight on the Coast by a Norwegian artist Johan Christian Clausen Dahl. Also of interest were Theophile de Bock’s Landscape with Sheep and Eugene-Louis Boudin’s Etretat. I must mention the dock scene painting Waals-Eilandgracht with Bridge and Moored Tjalk Barges by Piet Mondrian, which is notable simply for not being a De Stijl piece. One might also notice a work called French Landscape by American painter Gaine Ruger Donoho. It has a nice composition but the painting itself is way too large. This is one of those cases were the work would’ve been more effective it were executed in smaller, more intimate canvas.

Next up we had some American landscape works from the Hudson River School. Bierstadt’s The Boating Party and Gifford’s Mount Washington from the Saco River: A Sketch are both handsome pieces but nowhere near the caliber of their best work. By far the most impressive painting of this genre was landscape from William Louis Sonntag, a HRS artist whom I wasn’t even aware of yet. For whatever reasons I love landscaped which include little wooden dams. I’m a sucker for those little wooden dams. At any rate, I’ll be seeking out more works by Sonntag.

The Chazen also has a nice collection of Italian works. My favorites included a piece attributed to Salvator Rosa, Figures under a Cliff, Pietro Paolini’s eerie Young Man Playing a Viola, a captivating depiction of Lucrezia Romana by Giampietrino, and also an Adoration of the Shepherds painting by Giorgio Vasari. Compared to the other Vasaris I’ve seen, this one is an oil panting on wood as opposed to canvas, and with that in mind I tried to see if any of his grid lines were visible through the glaze. It’s a nice piece though like most Vasaris the figures look a bit wooden and out of proportion. For those you who don’t know Vasari, he was a 16th century Italian painter who is best known for his biographies on other painters, and part of that kind of comes through in his work.

Another work that caught my eye was Claude Joseph Vernet’s Sunrise which bears the same mood and atmosphere as his Morning at the Art Institute of Chicago. The colors and vantage points are the same but the compositions and subject matter are entirely different. Whatever I case I couldn’t help but look at Sunrise without feeling as if I’d seen it before.

On the wall to the left of Sunrise is a Venetian scene which looks like it could be a Canaletto or a Guardi but it’s actually a piece attributed Michele Giovanni Marieschi. Further right you’ll find three more paintings of what appear to be capriccios, though if you look closer you’ll notice that the two on either side are “roman ruins” works by French painter Hubert Robert while the middle canvas is actually a common harbor scene, attributed to Italian painter Francecso Simonini. Sneaky.

Other paintings of note were Christian Bell’s Meeting of the Austrian and Prussian Commanders and the playful Colonnades of Versailles by Giovanni Boldini. Again, I think the latter would’ve been more effective on the smaller scale. Outside the galleries there was also an excellent selection of early-American furniture. Especially nerdy individuals will note the reproduction of Charles Wilson Peale’s George Washington, probably based off the piece in the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts.

I must mention that on the 2nd floor there was an entire gallery sectioned off for maintenance. This particular gallery is apparently where they showcase their Russian paintings from the Joseph E Davies collection. In lieu of this I checked out the collection online when I got home, which in no way compares to seeing the works in person, but unfortunately it would have to do. I would’ve loved to see Klaudii Vaslievich’s Fall of Novrorad, Arkhip Ivanovich Luindzhia’s Night of the Dnieper, and Il"ya Yefinmovich Repin’s Zaporozhtsy's Reply to the Sultan. Oh well, maybe next time. At least I got to view the Russian icons at the other end of the floor. I was disappointed to find out that none of the Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky’s seascapes were even out on display. Such a loss, just keeping them tucked away in storage.

Speaking of which, according to their website the Chazen has a very nice George Inness and Robert Blacklock, neither of which were on view. Those two would work well cattycorner from the Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot painting. Just a suggestion. Oh, and Johannes Bathololamaus Duntze’s Alpine Landscape needs to be out as well.

As I mentioned earlier, the downstairs area had a special exhibit, The Loaded Image: Printmaking as Persuasion, a display of prints from the 16th century to present. There is a theme to this particular selection of work but to be honest I wasn’t too interested. At any rate it’s a nice selection of prints—even some of the more modern works like Raymond Louis Gloechler’s Return of Earth stood out as very strong. I also enjoyed Honore Daumier’s Repos de la France, Albrecht Durer’s Ill-Assorted Couple, and the excellent Battle of St. James at Clavijo by Martin Schongauer. On either side of the Schongauer piece there are prints from Goya and Callot which are meant to depict the horrors of war, which immediately brought to mind the Belligerent Encounters exhibit that is currently showing at the Art Institute of Chicago. My favorite piece of the exhibit was without a doubt the little copper engraving by Albrecht Altdorfer, Horatius Cocles Leaping into the Tiber River. Now that is an incredible work of craftsmanship.

So there you have it. That’s many Eurocentric review of the Chazen Museum of Art. Next time I’ll make it a point to see more of the other collections. Great museum. If you ever find yourself in Madison I highly recommend checking it out. Oh yeah, and it's free!

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Saturday morning I took the train down to Philly to visit the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I hadn’t been to the former before so I decided on visiting it first.

My only interest at the PAFA was their permanent collection of American paintings in the Furness-Hewitt Building. A grand staircase leads you up to the upstairs hall whereby you enter a number of large exhibition galleries. It’s an awesome set up. The first thing you notice after making your way up the staircase are two huge Benjamin West paintings, Death on a Pale Horse and The Rejection of Christ, on either side of the floor. There both extremely busy works with a lot of heavy religious and literary allusions, so much that when the latter was first exhibited patrons were given a 3 page guide for explanation. Now that’s ambitious. They definitely make a solid first impression.

The best place to start seemed to be the Peale room. The academy was founded in 1805 by painter Charles Willson Peale. Following his lead his children, most notably the aptly named Raphaelle and Rembrandt, became established painters as well, primarily in portrait and still life genres. Included are in this collection is Charles Wilson Peale’s portrait of Washington and depiction of Noah’s Ark where the animals are presented in an almost scientific fashion. Along with West and Thomas Cole it’s fascinating to see the work of American painters who produced historical and landscape works as well as pieces directly referencing Christianity. Apparently it was more of a late 18th and early 19th century thing. I guess you had to be there.

Ok, I admit that before going to the PAFA I’d studied a cook on the collection I made note of all the pieces I was interested in seeing, thus I was already familiar with certain paintings. Then again, there was quite a bit of work from art I’d never heard of but yet enjoyed, such as a historical painter named Peter Rothermal who produced two bad-ass works, De Sato Raising the Cross on the Mississippi and Last Sign of the Moor. The latter depicts the moors leaving Granada after it was conquered by the Spanish. I really enjoyed this nineteenth century artist’s work and I’m disappointed more of his pieces aren’t featured in other American collections—and on that note he’s not even mentioned in my book on the PAFA collection even those he was a faculty member. Other painters new to me included the Vermeer-esqe William McGregor Paxton with Girl Sweeping, Christian Schussele’s King Solomon and the Iron Worker, Anna Elizabeth Klumpke’s In the Wash House, Evening by tonalist-and-possibly-Inness-copycat Dwight W. Tryon, and two massive Civil War themed pieces, Final Assault upon Fort Fisher, North Carolina by Xanthus Smith and Battery of Light Artillery en Route by William Trego.

Some neat albeit smaller landscape work from the Hudson River School were on display, such as Asher Durand’s Landscape with Creek and Rocks and Thomas Doughty’s Landscape with Curving River. This genre of painting was also represented abroad by American artists in works such as Jasper Cropsey’s Landscape Figures of Rome, Thomas Moran’s Turner-inspired Venice and Sanford Robinson Gifford’s small but stunning St. Peter’s from Pincian Hill. Other landscapes of note were Edmund Darch Lewis’s Lake Willoughby and George Innes’s Woodland Scene, but my attention was arrested by an almost cinematic painting by William Trost Richards called February. It’s stuck as a very somber, moody piece of work.

Speaking of somber, there were a few pieces by Henry Ossawa Tanner, including a religious work Nicodemus. Ever since seeing Tanner’s Annunciation at the Philly Museum of Art I’ve been fascinated by this painter’s method and approach.

Two works which I was really taken aback by were Alexander Harrison’s The Wave and Daniel Ridgeway Knight’s Hailing the Ferry. I’d seen both in my collection book but in order to really appreciate them you really must see them in person. Both are just so beautiful and engage your attention from everything else on the wall. In terms of subject matter they both qualify as Romantic but they're executed with the utmost realism. Again, really incredible paintings.

Along with some outstanding still life pieces by the Peales there are some excellent works of the genre by latter artists as well, such as Still Life by William Michael Harnet, a couple dead bird pictures by Alexander Pope, John Fredrick Peto’s Fish House Door, and a really simple and simple yet clever piece by George Cope, Spectacles. The focal point of the painting is literally the shadow of the spectacles spanning over the side of a page, quite possibly the sort of work only another still life artist could appreciate.

There are also some intimate interior paintings such as Edmund Tarbell’s The Breakfast Room. I was hoping to catch William Henry Lippincott’s Childish Thoughts but it wasn’t on display though I did get to see his Infantry in Arms which is executed in more or less the same vein.

One of the galleries included a large portrait piece, Pat Lyon at the Forge by John Neagle. The work was made more interesting to me after discovering that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts also has a canvas of this painting by the same artist. The look the same at first glance but the one at the BMFA has a few objects taken out of the middle to lower right-hand side. Strange. Also featured are a number of Cecilia Beaux portraits, an Ivan Albright which is immediately identifiable, and a very characteristic Robert Henri piece.

Oh yeah, and also on display was Thomas Eakins’s The Gross Clinic. I honestly didn’t expect that it’d be out, but there it was. Nice surprise.

So yeah, the PAFA ruled, to put it bluntly. I spent about an hour and a half there though one could easily walk through the galleries in the span of 10 minutes. I was really impressed with the building and the exhibition spaces, and it’s very likely that someday I’ll visit again.

Afterward I headed up the Benjamin Franklin parkway to the Philadelphia Museum at Art. I’ve already written an excessively long and boring entry about this place but I’ll go over some works of interest anyway. This time I started off in the American Wing where there was only one change since last fall—they had Eakin’s Agnew Clinic out on display. Wow. Two unexpected Eakins Clinics in one day. Anyway, Agnew Clinic was painted 14 years after the Gross and also features a horizontal composition. The angle is a bit more detached and there more emphasis on the background. There both fine pieces of work with strong qualities but I’m going to have to Gross Clinic has a much more sudden emotional impact whereas Agnew takes longer to sink in. I don’t prefer one over the other though, and they are indeed two entirely different works of art.

Other works of interest in the American Wing included two Peaceful Kingdoms and two historical works by the Folk Art Puritan oddball Edward Hicks, Frank Benson’s The Artist’s Daughters, Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Boy and Sheep under a Tree, and two works both called A Coming Storm, one by Sanford Gifford and the other by William Bradford. Since seeing these pieces last Fall I’ve learned so much about these two particular artists as well as the other painters of the Hudson River School.

From there I went to the European Art and Sculpture galleries. Pieces of note included Jean-Francois Millet’s Solitude, Jules Bastien-Lepage’s The Thames, London, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s Goatherd of Terni. The same Alma–Tadema painting was up as before but this time I noticed the woman’s sensual feet in the lower left end. One could almost describe them as erotic but they’re anything but profane. I also really enjoyed this one particular piece called Solitude by an unfamiliar artist named Jean-Charles Cazin. Oh yeah, and there was actually a Monet I liked, Waterloo Bridge, London: Morning Fog, though it has more to do with the city scenery than the impressionistic play on light. I’ve never been terribly interested in impressionism whether it'd be European or American, and when I see work in usually continue on my way. Lastly in this section I must mention to seascapes of Gustave Courbet. Man, I love his marine works. He painted the ocean as if it were a nasty, wild animal. Awesome.

Afterward I walked though the early European art galleries, making my way clockwise from the Netherlandish, German, and finally the Italian works. I noticed Josse Lieferinxe’s four panel framepiece on the life of St. Sebastian which was missing two panels on account of them being on loan for the Kings Queens and Courtiers exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. I also took the backway through the galleries of Asian Art where there were some truly incredible statues as well as massive works on installation. Very cool.

From there I continued on through the Europeans galleries. Only major difference since last fall was the small room showcasing the reproductive print works of David Teniers II was replaced with a collection of anonymous paintings from Cologne of which were purchased avidly by John G. Johnson. I also took another look at the gallery display Mexican artists. I’d purchased a huge book called The Arts in Latin American 1492 – 1820 but I still have yet to thoroughly study it and put everything in it’s appropriate, if you know what I mean. I do find it interesting and quite logical that a lot of the smaller works where painted on copper instead of regular canvas. One Mexican painters of note, whose work is displayed alongside the likes of Ribera, Murrillo, and Zurbaran, is Fray Miguel de Herrera. The noticeable difference from the other artists is that de Herrera’s paintings are devoid of any baroque influence.

One last item of note was a flower and fruit still life by Eugene Delacroix. Yeah, I’d never seen a still life by him either, as he’s typically known for ambitious literally and historical works.

So yeah, that was my visit to the PAFA and the Philly Museum of Art. Afterward I made a stop at the Pearlman Building but was not interested in any of the exhibits or other works on display, though it should be noted at that point I was pretty burnt out and hungry. I guess I’ll leave it at that.

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Sunday was probably the most outgoing day of my weekend. We slept in late but it didn’t take long for me to get up and moving. I decided to head on down to the Art Institute of Chicago to see their new exhibit: Kings, Queens and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France. Once again I was taking advantage of my free entry deal during the first weekend of the month. Anyway, before entering the exhibit I was confronted with a huge chart which gave a full run down of the French royal bloodlines from Charles VII to Francis I. It was a bit overwhelming but over the years I’ve read enough about general European history that I recognized quite a few of the names, though I’d be hard pressed to tell you their significance without a few generous hints. There was also a huge timeline which gave a thorough description of events between the early 14th century and the middle 15th century. It was a good introduction and provided a proper context for the exhibition.

The exhibit featured many tapestries, reliquaries, paintings, sculptures and manuscripts from various collections here in the US as well as from the Louvre and other notable museums throughout Europe. The show starts off with several tapestries and paintings displaying the Trojan War, perhaps the draw parallels with the Hundred Years War, and from there showcases the influence of Italian sculpture, painting and architectural design on the French arts while emphasizing the role of Paris as an important trade center with a distinct cultural identity. The premise is nothing new or profound but it was enough to hold together a worthwhile exhibit of French and Italian works.

Paintings that struck my interest included two panels displaying events from the life of St. Sebastian (Philly Museum of Art), the Baptism of Clovis and Healing of the Sick (National Gallery of Art, D.C.), Coronation of King David and Baptism of Louis XII (Amiens Cathedral), a Crucifixion by the Master Dreux (Getty Museum), Jean Hey’s Charlemagne and the Meeting at the Golden Gate (National Gallery of London) and a tapestry showing Narcissus at his Fountain (Boston Museum of Art). Many of the pieces I’d already read about in my home library and it was neat to finally see them in person. Also on display are a few interesting reliquaries, including one made of a gold alloy for the heart of St. Anne of Brittany. Many of the works showcase royalty aligning themselves with the likes of religious figures like Mary Magdalene as well as notable characters from French history such as Charlemagne and Louis IX. In short they are works of propaganda that probably survived destruction on account of their aesthetic beautiful and outright patriotism.

The final quarter of the exhibit focused on the tendency of the southern kingdoms of France to derive artistic influence from neighboring Italy as well as seek out the works of important Italian artists. I didn’t find these works as interesting as previous the pieces which had dealt more directly with French history, but at the very least this segment rounded out the general theme of the show. At any rate I enjoyed the exhibit and after visiting the general galleries of the museum I found myself coming back for a quick roundabout to absorb whatever I might’ve missed.

During my stay at the AIC I also swung by the Folk Art Gallery for a quick look see. Folk Art is the term used primarily for American works made by individuals who had no professional or classical training in their respective fields. The result is some very literal and often extremely hideous pieces, most of which bear an almost surrealistic charm. Edward Hicks is the most notable artist of this style, and it’s perhaps quite telling that while at the Denver Museum of Art this past Fall I found one of his works hung alongside a painting executed by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch.

After the museum I headed home where Rani had prepared a wonderful dinner of BBQ chicken breasts. She’d of course used the Black Swan BBQ sauce which I’d picked up the night before. It was a nice way to wrap up a low-key but stimulating weekend.
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Saturday morning we got up bright and early to go up to the grocery store and pick up some necessities for the week. We made out way via public transit. We were anxious about loosing our parking spot on the street, otherwise we would’ve driven. Yes, the streets were clear of snow but people still had dibs out to mark their spots and we feared not being able to find anything open when we got back. Anyway, taking the bus to and from the store worked out really well, granted we had only a small amount of groceries to transport home.

Afterward I decided to venture all the way down to Hyde park to visit the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. Believe it or not I’d never been. Getting there was fairly easy and took only about half the time I’d expected; I took the Redline down to Garfield and then the Garfield bus east through Washington Park and to Ellis Ave. Not a bad trip at all.

The number of works out on display at the Smart is relatively small compared to that of other museums but nonetheless they have a respectable collection of paintings and sculptures. There were galleries showcasing European Art, Contemporary Art, Modern Art and Design, and Asian Art, as well as a main gallery for a special exhibit, The Tragic Muse: Art and Emotion, 1700 – 1900. The Contemporary gallery was of little interest to me. The Asian segment was interesting though moreso from an archeological perspective. The Modern Art and Design gallery was neat, especially these two paintings, Homer by Emile-Rene Menard and Four Arts Ball by Guy Pene Du Bois. There was also an excellent display of still life photographs by Walter Peterhans, whose work I’d never seen before, and some cool furniture by Frank Lloyd Wright, including a very handsome dining table set.

The two galleries of interest were the European and one hosting the Tragic Muse exhibit. In the European I immediately noticed a small painting by Jean Leon Gerome, one of my favorite orientalist painters, of Pygalion and Galatea. Note that the painter made a much larger version of this piece which now resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other paintings of interest included Angelica and Ruggiero by Cecco Bravo, Still Life with Flowers by Michel Simons, Skitties Game by Jan Steen, and Graces Unveiling Nature by Benjamin West. There was also a statue titled African Woman by Jean Baptiste Carpenux, which I recognized from my days at Design Toscano. I must’ve sold about four resin reproductions of this piece during my tenure at the shop. I guess I should mention that it was titled Slave Girl. Arg. Also on display was a 16th century Italian reliquary which featured a small plaque of the Virgin and Child that was surrounded by lapis lazuli. Again, I’m a sucker for those rare earthstones.

The Tragic Muse exhibit was very nice as well. The overall concept of the exhibit wasn’t of much interest to me but I can see how each work related to the theme. Paintings that struck my interest included The Hold Up Friedrich Gauermann, Ophelia by Anne Lea Merritt, Child’s Grave by Joshua Hargrave Sams Mann, and Emigrant’s Last Sight of Home by Richard Redgrave.

After the museum I headed back home and relaxed for a bit. That evening Rani and I settled down for drinks, during which I broke open a bottle of Great Divide’s Grand Cru, one of their new Belgian style ales. It had a fruity finish that reminded me of a quadruple. I was quite impressed and very happy with this ale. Great Divide continues to put out some amazing products and is by far one of my favorite domestic breweries.

Anyway, we decided to stay in that night. Some zombie themed event was going on at the club which I can’t say really appealed to us. It was a good night to catch up on some sleep.


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December 2016

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