My husband needed to do some research at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, last week, so I went along.
It was our first visit to the Wadsworth, which has a choice collection of American and European art along with ancient, Asian, and contemporary works. It's one of those museums where you wander into a gallery and realize, "Oh, so that's here!"Art history professors have always gotten a lot of mileage out of the Wadsworth, so anyone who's had a paintings course or two will find familiar faces and scenes. As you stroll through the galleries you can get a fairly complete historical survey of American painting, especially, with at least one, or and sometimes a few, superb examples by most of the significant artists from the 18th to the early 20th century. And there's notable contemporary art, of course, as well.
There's currently an exhibition of Frederic Church's Middle Eastern and Mediterranean landscapes, so I dutifully took it in, although I'm not a big fan of Church's paintings.
The Parthenon. I alway expect Church's landscapes to be monumental,
but they are often average-size or even small, like this one.
A Persian tile from Church's huge collection of Middle Eastern art and artifacts.
I'll show you some of the things I liked best.
Florine Stettheimer's Beauty Contest, 1924. She painted her self-portrait in
the upper left, seated with her legs crossed, in a pink dress.
(If you don't know Florine, look her up.)
My, that looks familiar! Theodore Robinson's Beacon Street, 1884.
That stretch of sidewalk beside the Common is only about 3 feet wide now.
The pile of rubble might still be there.
Julius Stewart's tippy scene of rich Americans flirting: On the Yacht "Namouna,", Venice, 1890
I had the place almost to myself much of the time.
Rembrandt Peale's portrait of his younger brother Rubens, 1834.
We make a fuss about Copley in Boston but, to me, those Philly Peales were better artists.
The Cabinet of Curiosities Gallery met my expectations. There were shells,
minerals, fossils, and exquisite little objects and artifacts of all kinds,
displayed with peculiar paintings and several magnificently decorated cabinets
that once housed similar collections. Check out the tortoises high up on the wall.
Sol LeWitt's murals liven up the stairwell in the Morgan Wing.
A Bronze Greco-Egyptian cat. And what a happy cat it seems to have been,
even with that sacred bug on its head.
In the European galleries, I saw the Florentine Orazio Gentileschi's
Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes, 1621–24.
When you're caught holding the evidence, try looking the other way.
An enameled plate from Berlin Porcelain Factory, probably 1908–1909
A detail from Gustav Klimt's Two Girls with Oleander, c. 1890-1892.
This was one of the last paintings I saw and it was simply stunning in person.