Thursday, July 23, 2009

Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

My time in Boston is winding down so today's post will be brief. I have got to get out there and soak up all I can with what time I have left. I feel as if what I have seen and learned in the past few weeks is just the tip of the iceberg in this interesting, vibrant city!

Yesterday's outing was to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, an absolutely exquisite building housing an amazing art collection. The home was built to evoke a 15th century Venetian palace.

Isabella Stewart (1840 - 1924) was born in New York and married Bostonian John Lowell Gardner, Jr. in 1860. Their wide travels inspired a passion for art that became a passion for collecting in 1891 when Isabella's father left her his fortune. Isabella and her husband gathered over 2500 objects of art. They initially amassed their collection to decorate their home. The collection includes paintings, sculpture, furniture, textiles, drawings, ceramics, photographs........the list goes on. The collection is from Rome, Medieval Europe, Renaissance Italy, the Islamic world, and 19th century France and America.

Isabella Gardner Stewart painted by John Singer Sargent in 1888

"Years ago I decided that the greatest need in our Country was Art… We were a very young country and had very few opportunities of seeing beautiful things, works of art… So, I determined to make it my life's work if I could." - Isabella Stewart Gardner, on the creation of her Museum, 1917

I so wish I had been able to take photographs of the collection. This was one of my favorite rooms. The walls are entirely adorned with Spanish gilded and painted leather panels.

The house is built around a courtyard with beautiful flower beds and seasonal plantings. It is covered with glass above the four story building, so one has the feeling of being in a huge greenhouse.
Beautiful decorative arts are scattered throughout the museum - I loved these chairs. There were 4 of them, each with different details.

For more information (and much better pictures) visit the website for the museum here.

All photos and information courtesy of the museum website and guest brochure.


  1. Fun! Fun! Fun! I read the biography of JS Sargent's "Madame X ((Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau) not that long ago -- seems like Gardener's collection got serious after she acquired Sargent's coveted El Jaleo-(details are fuzzy, but I believe she built the room/building to house the oversized canvas before she wore Sargent down and he let her have it-- as a promise it would have a good home!). What a wonderful piece to see in person!

  2. The ISG is one of my favorite places on this earth. A woman selecting art all over Europe and bringing them back to quilt into a her very own personal vision of home. But hot damn! You have to love a girl who wears her tiara to baseball games! Hope you felt the ghosts move.

  3. Such beautiful garden and I do love that chair...I'll bet the others are gorgeous too!

  4. Okay, now I feel like an official slug. I've lived an hour and 15 minutes away for a year and a half, and have never seen Boston like you have in your three "weeks!" I need you to go back to Texas now, you're making me feel really b.a.d.;)
    No, seriously I have thoroughly enjoyed learning the city through your eyes. I can't thank you enough for taking me/us with you on your journey! This looks like a must-see!

  5. Wonderful museum, isn't it? Do they still have the delightful little cafe'?

  6. Sophie
    I noticed the cafe as I was leaving the gift shop. I did not eat there as it was packed! Thanks for your visit!

  7. Love, Love, Love your blog! Such a treat to find you through you finding me.



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