Washington DC – A Treasure Trove of Art and Museums!

I’m back with the museums and art of Washington D.C. from our trip last fall. It’s taken awhile to put it together because there are thousands (maybe millions??) of treasures to be found in the free museums of the Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art, on the National Mall.

I’ll do my best to give you a taste.

The first gallery includes artifacts from both the American History Museum and Natural History Museum. President Lincoln’s top hat, worn that terrible night at Ford Theatre, and Mary Lincoln’s dress. Julia Child’s kitchen and the original star-spangled banner from 1812. The 45 carat Hope diamond, one of the most valuable in the world. The turquoise and diamond Diadem given by Napolean to his second wife, Empress Marie Louise, in 1810. An astronaut out for a walk at the Air and Space Museum, and a pair of striking ruby shoes. No not Dorothy’s slippers, they were under wraps. I found these beauties by Jamie Okuma, at the American Indian Museum. (Click on pictures in the gallery to enlarge them.)

So many museums full of America’s treasures!

But I must move on to the National Gallery of Art, where I traveled through space and time and entered fantastic landscapes like these:

View of Medinet El-Fayoum – Jean-Leon Gerome – 1868/1870

Autumn – On the Hudson River – Jasper Francis Cropsey 1860

Green River Cliffs, Wyoming, Thomas Moran 1881

And joined festivities like these – The Concert, Gerrit Van Honthorst,1623 –

and the Concert at the Casino of Deauville, Eugene Boudin, 1865.

I traveled to Venice to see bold Renaissance art, through the special exhibit on Vittorio Carpaccio. Here’s the narrative from the National Gallery of Art.

“A leading figure in the art of Renaissance Venice, Vittorio Carpaccio (c. 1460/1466–1525/1526) is best known for his large, spectacular narrative paintings that brought sacred history to life. Although for centuries he has been loved and celebrated in his native city for his observant eye, fertile imagination, and storytelling prowess, this exhibition marks the first retrospective of the artist ever held outside Italy.”

The Virgin Reading
Young Knight
Saint Augustine in His Study
St. George and the Dragon

I loved all of these vivid windows into the past!

Finally, I’ll close with some portraits of ladies, as different as can be!

The first is Marchesa Brigida Spinola Doria, painted in 1606 by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, being admired by my husband.

The Woman with a Parasol by Claude Monet is a portrait of his wife and son, from 1875.

The Green Marilyn was painted by Andy Warhol in 1962.

And my favorite – Ginerva de Benci. If she looks a bit insolent, perhaps it’s because she’s a teenager, and at 16 about to be married.

This classic was painted by Leonardo daVinci in 1474 and is the only one of his paintings found in the Americas.

She’s behind glass so there’s glare, but I brought her home as a souvenir magnet and here she is closer-up.

A real beauty, don’t you think? I like her much better than the other DaVinci, you know the one. But maybe I should go to Paris for a look at the Mona Lisa before I decide for sure.

I hope there’s such a trip in my future.

~ Susanne

34 Comments on “Washington DC – A Treasure Trove of Art and Museums!

  1. I have seen The Mona Lisa in Paris, and I wasn’t that impressed. It’s her enigmatic smile that captivates everyone of course.
    You made the most of your visit to your capital, and saw some great things!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Thanks, Pete! Yes, we were happy to spend several days on the National Mall, and I enjoyed the art the most. So hard to pick just a few pictures to share, but one of my favorites was Ginerva de Benci. I’d never seen her before and was delighted to learn she was one of DaVinci’s.

    • So many treasures, it was hard to know what to include! I had to include Lincoln’s hat, as tragic as it is. And I so loved the art!! Glad you enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

  2. Pingback: Washington DC – A Treasure Trove of Art and Museums! β€” Cats and Trails and Garden Tales – johnrieber

  3. I have been fortunate to visit DC many times and was always pleased to find so much to see and do whenever I had any free time! This is a great post! Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Don. I was really taken in by the art! I hope I get to Paris again. I went once years ago but unfortunately skipped the Louvre! πŸ™‚

  4. Perusing these treasures, I was immediately taken by The Concert, Gerrit Van Honthorst,1623–. It’s something in the blood, I think. I agree, The DaVinci portrait is more evocative than the Mona Lisa, maybe it has to do with her melancholy anticipation of marriage. I can feel her pain.

    • Thanks so much for your comment. πŸ™‚ I really enjoyed the art on this trip so it was hard to pick just a few photos to share. And I loved Ginerva de Benci!

  5. It’s fascinating how old materials are shown in the museums and to see the changes as time progresses. The Renaissance Art will remain forever and more fascinating to understand that the Medici Family have promoted these.

    • I loved all the museums and art and it was a treat to see the exhibit on Carpaccio as I wasn’t familiar with his work. Thanks for your comment. 😊

  6. I got lucky and had an internship at Air and Space back in the late 80s. It was a hoot to be in their storage facilities where they had all sorts of odd things that they had no room for in the main museum. Happily, a lot of that stuff got put out at the Dulles facility.

    I spent my lunch hours in the other museums πŸ™‚

    • Wow, that must have been fun! We didn’t have time to go to Dulles but that’s supposed to be good! I loved all the museums but Air & Space is a favorite of my husband’s. 😊

  7. This is just wonderful! I have seen many of these works of art, and the world needs to know of the incredible art collections in Washington DC. A story I hope will make you smile: I’m a preschool teacher and my class has a major art show for the community in April. It’s a big deal. First, I have to introduce art to the children, all styles. The last time I was in DC, I saw one of the art pieces I show the children. Well, I was moved to tears. Yes I cried. There it was, the ‘real deal’, right in front of me. Thank you!

    • How wonderful that you’re instilling art appreciation into your preschoolers. I LOVE that! πŸ₯°Thanks for sharing your story. We do have such a treasure in the National Gallery of Art. 😊

      • Thank you, Susanne. Yes, you have a great treasure. When I was there, I asked the docent if there was a Kandinsky, but no. He is another artist I introduce to the children. In all my years of teaching, the one piece of art that is most popular is Large Blue Horses by Franz Marc. If I ever saw this ‘live’ I would melt into tears. I have three art posters hanging in my classroom year round- Starry Night, a Grandma Moses, and an Eric Carle. BTW, when Eric Carle was in Nazi Germany as a high schooler, his teacher risked his life to show Eric ‘forbidden art’- Kandinsky, Picasso, Matisse, Klee, and Marc. That changed Carle’s life and his art. I love that story!! I often show the Mona Lisa and ask the children, “Tell me a story.” What they see is far more than adults see. I could go on, apologies!

      • No apologies necessary! I love your stories! While I was preparing this post I used the search function on the National Gallery of Art’s website to make sure I knew the name of the work and the artist. It’s all so interesting and the works so marvelous!! I loved them all but finding the portrait of Ginerva de Benci by Leonardo DaVinci was really special. 😊😍

      • Yes, it’s all so interesting and marvelous. The portrait by DaVinci, the only one here in America, struck me the most. She may be my new “Tell me a story.”

  8. my daughter lived there for a couple of years , and I took full advantage of seeing as much of it all when I was visiting. it’s a great city and incredibly full of amazing things.

  9. I love that the museums and galleries are free. It’s so encouraging for people to visit. You clearly had a wonderful time there.

  10. I think it’s great that you were permitted to take these photos and share them with us, as well as being able to keep ‘souvenirs’ of your favourite exhibits πŸ˜€ The art is fabulous (I love that Monet!) but I was most interested in the US history items such as Lincoln’s hat and the original star spangled banner.

    • Thanks. There was so much to see it was hard to pick a sample to share! I also was touched by Lincoln’s top hat and the flag that inspired our National anthem, the star spangled banner. The flag was huge and hanging in a room with special lighting, so no photography allowed. I was glad we could take photos in the National Gallery of Art, and there was also a very nice gift shop. I may share more of my favorites later. 😊

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