Isabella Stewart Gardner had a weirdo eclectic collection of art. It’s completely awesome, and very much a personal collection, reflecting her taste and interests. And her love of art in its various forms.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is PACKED. From elaborate fire places to tapestries to the floors themselves, there’s plenty to admire. Gardner loved Italian art, the color red, and sarcophagi apparently (there seemed to be one per room, which I can’t decide how I feel about).
There’s really not enough time to examine everything. So here are five things in the museum I especially enjoyed and think other art lovers might too.
1. Omnibus by Anders Zorn in the Blue Room. I’d heard of Anders Zorn but I’d never really seen his work. Gardner had several pieces of his, and I liked them all. But I found myself returning to this painting in particular. Maybe it’s the candid-like appearance of the scene, or the feeling of movement, or the fact that the subject reminds me of Daniel Sharman. I’m not sure. But I kept coming back for another peek. And I’d love to see it again.
2. John Singer Sargent’s landscapes. I’m a Sargent fan all the way. But I’m not as familiar with his landscapes so seeing several, including the large and in charge Yoho Falls painting in the Blue Room was such a treat. I started playing a game to see if I could spot his landscapes as I went through each room. Sure enough, just like his portraits, his landscapes had his signature all over them.
3. Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach by James McNeill Whistler in the Yellow Room. It’s one of those paintings a lot of people will walk by without a second thought, because you need to just stand there and stare at it for a while before you see what’s actually going on in the painting. It just looks like a lot of blue paint on the canvas at first. But with some patience, it becomes clear that it’s a scene on the Thames like something out of Great Expectations. And according to the room’s guard (who adored my sister), Whistler is actually one of the first Impressionists.
4. Autographs from Tchaikovsky and Brahms, and a letter from George Washington. It was the cool thing to do in the late nineteenth century to collect autographs and letters from famous people. And Gardner had a ton of them. In the Yellow Room you can see autographs from a few famous composers, and upstairs in the Long Gallery are several letters from future presidents, including Washington and Grant.
5. The Little Salon. So technically this is an entire room, but it was something straight out of Pemberley, so of course I had to admire it for quite a while. Plus, there’s a lot of detail packed into this one space, as is true of the rest of the house.