Friday, February 27, 2015

The Freer Gallery of Art

At the Freer Gallery: "Breakfast in the Loggia," 1910.
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Detail, "Breakfast in the Loggia"
I wonder where these women were, and what they were having for breakfast just over 100 years ago. This painting was hanging in one of my very favorite museums: the Freer Gallery in Washington, D.C.,  which is part of the Smithsonian. The Freer Gallery houses the collections of Charles L. Freer, a Detroit industrialist and art collector who donated a fabulous collection to the Smithsonian when he died in 1919. Freer's collection was particularly strong in Asian and American arts, especially in the works of James McNeill Whistler. The Sargent painting hangs in a hall near rooms filled with amazing Chinese and Japanese art.

Fruit Stall (1879-1880), Whistler,
from series of etchings of Venice
In the print room this week were a series of etchings of Venice by Whistler. Freer purchased one of each of the entire series of etchings, which the artist printed himself on ancient Chinese paper (if I recall the exhibit documentation correctly). Interestingly, the University of Michigan art museum also owns this series of etchings, which were purchased by a friend of Freer under his influence, and later donated to the Michigan collection.

The Freer Gallery collection is so large that most of the rooms rotate various objects from the collection at various times. The Peacock Room, which was decorated by Whistler, is permanently on display, a remarkable ensemble. He painted elaborate peacocks and other designs directly onto the leather wall-coverings of a Renaissance room with shelves to hold blue-and-white Chinese vases.

I love to go back to the Freer whenever I can, to see new and old favorites.

1 comment:

~~louise~~ said...

Good morning, Mae:)
My son can't say enough about the Freer Gallery. He tries to visit each time he goes to Washington, D.C. One of these days I'm going to make it there. I too wonder what those ladies were eating and chatting about.

Thanks for sharing, Mae...