Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wash, DC, April 2010, Post 6, National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum

Housed in the same large building are both the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, located at 8th and F St. NW.  I had been to neither.  We went later in the day so had less energy, so I definitely want to go back.  Portraits here are of people that made a significant contribution to the Americas.   Here are some of the photos I took there.

We mainly saw the portraits and the folk art, but I did get two photos of American art.  Howard had been looking for a painting by James Audobon, who lived from 1785 to 1851.  He was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and painter. He painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America in a form far superior to what had gone before.  In doing so, he also killed many many birds.  Here is photo of Howard standing next to an Audubon painting.

Here is a Georgia O'Keefe photo.  When we were at the Phillips, we went on a tour of the Georgia O'Keefe abstract exhibit there.  The tour leader talked about how O'Keefe viewed New York when she lived there...and how she felt very confined within the apartment on the 20+ floor where she lived, where all she could see was more and more buildings.  So here is her expression of that feeling in this painting.

The first portrait that caught my eye was this group of people with Enrique Caruso, a famous Italian tenor who spent a lot of time in the US.  He lived from 1873 to 1921.  Caruso is on the right. 

Here are some other portraits of note:
Thomas Alva Edison

Frederick Douglas

President Lincoln--a very attractive painting of him, isn't it?  

In the Presidents' gallery, a modernistic painting of JFK.   Clinton's was even more modernistic.  I wonder if it is temporary or will permanently be there.

I really admired Marian Anderson, the Afrian -American opera singer, when I was young.  Here is the portrait of her in the gallery. 

I really liked the Folk Art section.  There was only one Grandma Moses painting.  I usually enjoy her work and her story, but I am less enamored of this painting... but here it is:

I loved this very tall giraffe made of bottle caps! 

 I was amazed by this display made by a devout man, a veteran who was probably suffering from his time in war.  He was very religious and created this diarama (?) out of cardboard, gold paint, aluminum foil, etc over many years.    The whole exibit was at least 20 feet wide.  The museum website says:  James Hampton's spiritual sculpture, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly, a collection highlight, represents the powerful vision of America's self-taught artists.

This piece, which is in the center above, was the first one he made: 

Another thing that always fascinates me is a grand piano that has been painted.

I've learned a lot about art since Howard and I have married.  Though nowhere as interested and knowledgeable about it as he is, I'm glad that I've gained more of an appreciation for it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wash, DC April 2010, Post 7, Tour of Capitol

On Thursday, we met up with a group of 8th graders from Howard's school who were in DC for spring break with 3 teachers.  A number of the students were in Howard's classes.  We met them at Union Station where they were having a quick lunch on Thursday.  They were very happy to see Mr. Cockerham. 

Here is Mr. Cockerham with Ms. Moore, the coordinator of the trip: 

We were able to join the class on their tour at 1 p.m. instead of going on the tour at 4 that Rep. McDermott's staff had gotten for us the week before we left.  (Senator Murray's staff could not help us.)
The tour really only shows 2 big rooms, the Rotunda and the area where the House used to meet before additions were made to the Capitol.  There is a new addition, the "Visitors' Center," with good pictures, artifacts and dioramas showing how the area had developed over time.  BTW, no bottles, even empty water bottles, are allowed into the Capitol.

This is the cast used to make the Statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol dome.  You can see how huge it is as Howard is standing next to it.   It is on display inside the Capitol.
Each US state is represented by 2 statues of famous people from that state.  Each state decides which people should represent them.  There are also statues of many of the presidents.  The most awesome statue is that of King Kamehameha of Hawaii.
Hellen Keller represents Alabama.
Mother Joseph and Marcus Whitman represent Washington State. 

President Lincoln's status was created by a 17 year old young woman. 

Within the Rotunda there are eight large paintings about the development of the United States as a nation. On the east side are four paintings depicting major events in the discovery of America. On the west are four paintings depicting the founding of the United States. The east side paintings include The Baptism of Pocahontas by John Gadsby Chapman, The Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Walter Weir, The Discovery of the Mississippi by William Henry Powell, and The Landing of Columbus by John Vanderlyn. The paintings on the west side are by John Trumbull: Declaration of Independence, Surrender of General Burgoyne, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, and General George Washington Resigning His Commission. Trumbull was a contemporary of the United States' founding fathers and a participant in the American Revolutionary War; he painted a self-portrait into Surrender of Lord Cornwallis.

Wash DC, Apr 2010 Post 5 National Gallery of Art

Howard's top priority when visiting DC this time was to see the National Gallery of Art.  This museum is free to the public and has one of the finest art collections in the world.    Howard spent Tuesday there and then we returned Thursday afternoon and I was very impressed by the Chester Dale collection special exhibit.

There are lovely courtyards with live plants and flowers throughout the building.  Here are 2 of them:

Howard went through the exhibit chronologically.  (He had seen the paintings in the modern art building in August 2007 on a one-day DC visit.) 

Early European art was religious.

This one is from the 1300s by Giotto, a very early one.

 This one is unusual because of the head outside the main picture.

The National Gallery of Art has the only Da Vinci in America.  This is a painting of Ginevra de' Benci, painted around 1474 to 1478.  She was very much admired for her culture, beauty and character.

On the back of the painting, a wreath of laurel and palm branches encircle a juniper sprig.  Entwined in the plants is a scroll with writing in Latin saying "Beauty adorns virtue," another comment on Ginevra.  The wreath is truncated, showing that the picture at one time was probably bigger, and the front probably included the woman's hands.

Howard was fascinated by the amount of detail in this religious painting.  The soul of man hanging on the left is heading to heaven, while the devil is taking the soul of the man on the right to hell, for exmple.

Boticelli was a famous painter in the late 1400s and early
1500s.  This is his painting of  de Medici.

This portrait is by the German artist Durer, who painted about the same time at Boticelli, late 1400s to early 1500s.
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaisance.  He lived from 1483 to 1520 and was very productive during his short life.
Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, better known as Titian, painted in the 1500s.  His exact birth year is unknown but it was probably a bit before 1490, and he died in 1576.   He was a leader in the Venetian school of the  Italian Renassance painters.  His earlier works had more vivid colors, but his style changed a lot during his lifetime.  The first one is a painting of a Cardinal.


Hans Holbein painted in the 1500s.   He was a German artist and printmaker, known as one of the greatest portrain painters of the 16th century.  He spent a lot of time in England.

El Grecco was born in Crete in 1541 and died in Spain in 1614.   There is a mystic quality to much of his work, and intense spirituality.  Here is one El Grecco painting on display at the National Gallery.  I find his pictures haunting and discomforting, personally.

In 1625, Avercamp painted a series of pictures of the game of "colf" on iced over lakes in Holland.  Several were on display here.  The artist shows the difference in attire between the elite playing colf and the heavyset fisherman who is watching the game.
Peter Paul Rubens was a prolific Flemish artist who lived from 1577 to 1640.  He favored a Baroque style that emphasized movement color and sensuality. Note how much larger than life Daniel is than the lions in the den. 
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a Dutch painter who lived from 1606 to 1669 and considered one of the greatest painters in European art history.  He did a lot of self-portraits including the one on the left here.  He did a lot of portraits and scenes from the Bible putting in his knowledge and emotional feelings about the events into his art work.
The Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer lived from 1632 to 1675.  He is famous for his masterly attention to light in his work.   I was surprised by the 3rd picture here, The Girl in the Red Hat, for the color.

Queen Zenobia Addressing Her Soldiers, by Giovanni Tiepolo.  Painted around 1730.

Francisco de Goya, a Spanish romantic painter and print maker lived from  1746 to 1828.  He is regarded as both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the modern ones.  I love the little doggie.

Gilbert Charles Stuart (born Stewart) (December 3, 1755 – July 9, 1828) was one of America's foremost portrait painters, painting over 1000 different people including the first 6 presidents of the United States.   Below are Washington, John Jay, Monroe, Jefferson, and Madison.
This is a famous painting of Napoleon in His Study painted by the French painter David in 1812.
The French artist Edgar Degas lived from 1834 to 1917.  A superb draftsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half his works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement.    He first wanted to be a painter of history but later changed and became a classical painter of modern life.  I had seen a number of his paintings of dancers, so it was interesting for me to see a different kind of painting as this one of the Morbillis.
An impressionist painting I liked, possibly painted by a woman.  it too was part of the Chester Dale collection. 
Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art for its vivid colors and emotional impact. He produced more than 2000 works during his lifetime and went through different styles of painting.  With my mother in Chicago about 20 years ago, I saw an exhibit of paintings throughout his life including his early years, his blue period, and more modernistic works.  Several of the paintings in the Dale collection at the National Gallery were different than what I had seen before.  Here are pictures of a girl eating from his blue period, a Classical Head, a very modernistic picture, his wife Mrs. Van Gogh, and finally wandering troubadors.  (Another artist had a similar troubador picture near it at the exhibit that looked more "modern" than Van Gogh's.)


J. M. W. Turner (1775 to 1851) was a British landscape painter.  Athough renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as "the painter of light"[3] and his work regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism.   This picture is of loading coal on the River Thames.

John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was an American painter, and a leading portrait painter of his era, creating more than 900 oil paintings and 2000 watercolors.  This one is entitled Lady in Repose.

The philanthropist, Chester Dale, was painted by both Diego Rivera and Salvador Dali.  Dale really liked the painting by his friend Rivera, which you can see here.