On a whim, Charles and I decided to visit the National Gallery of Art so this afternoon we walked there from our house. Why don't we do this more often? I thought to myself. This feeling was all the stronger when we walked into the West Wing and sauntered past a roomful of Monet's paintings. Holy cow I've got a few hundred million dollars worth of iconic art sitting within walking distance to my house, that is free for me to visit and I rarely stop by to see it!
Today we took in a few of the visiting exhibitions:
- Strokes of Genius: Rembrandt's Prints and Drawings
- The Artist's Vision: Romantic Tradition in Britain
- Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Dyptichs
- Constable's Great Landscapes: The Six-Foot Paintings
It was busy but not super-crowded in each of the galleries. Kudos the the NGA for providing tons of details on each of the exhibits. So often I visit galleries and there isn't any information about the painting - just the artist, date and donor. This trip I was very impressed with the technical information, backstory, cultural references, and more provided for each of the items. There was an almost overwhelming amount of information in the Rembrandt exhibit.
Things I really liked:
- Seeing the full-sized sketches of the Constable paintings placed side-by-side with the finished six-foot painting. This is the first time these paintings have ever been exhibited side-by-side and it helps to really appreciate Constable's skill, style and techniques.
- Seeing multiple copies/versions of Rembrandt etchings side-by-side to illustrate the different printing styles, aging/degredation of copper plates, etc. Seeing an etching judged "superb" next to one judged "excellent" next to one judged "fine" was a rare educational experience.
- The watercolors and etchings of the Romantic British artists - such an intimate exhibit and so well done! As always I found myself inexorably drawn to the work of the Pre-Raphaelites.
- Dyptichs - the most grotesque baby Jesus and Mary paintings I've seen in one place. Weird but strangely compelling and intimate. Well worth a visit.
- The NGA decked out with red and white pointsettas and white lit Christmas trees and wreaths.
I was also pleased that photography is allowed in the permanent collection! There are so many beautiful sculptures I would love to photograph - next time I will bring my camera!