September 21, Boston

Good morning! Here begins the blog of my new adventure on the Eastern Seaboard and the Saint-Gaudens quest.

The red-eye flight was basically a sleeping dormitory, and I got enough sleep to get me through the day. Sandy & Erik welcomed me to their home, and Erik had gallantly offered to be my chauffeur/guide for the day. Off we drove to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (entrance is free is your name is Isabella.) It wasn’t open yet, so we walked to the Museum of Fine Arts. http://www.mfa.org/

Wow! What a place. It had recently been enlarged and remodeled, and one visit there doesn’t begin to reveal all the marvels contained.  A docent gave us some info where we might find S-G works, and we were off to the American art section.

We found some S-G, but I must admit to being constantly distracted by everything else. It was so gorgeous. The items on exhibit were mostly 19th Century American, with lots of paintings by John Singer Sargent  and Winslow Homer, among many others. So I took these photos of Saint-Gaudens treasures:

P1010715 P1010716 P1010717 P1010718 P1010719 P1010720 P1010721

The next to the last, the study of the head of Victory, was especially interesting, as the model was Davida Clark, S-G’s longtime mistress, who had a son with him. Erik especially enjoyed seeing the double-eagle gold coins, among S-G’s last designs before he died of cancer in 1907. I can only recommend, that if you have the opportunity, there is an incredible wealth of treasure in the museum, and it would be certainly worth your while to visit it. Many times. We had lunch there, which was also worth our while. I observed to Erik that people in Boston seemed to dress better than in Eugene (which is saying absolutely nothing), but we decided that just the people at the museum were better dressed, not the general public.

After lunch, we headed back to the Gardner!  http://www.gardnermuseum.org/home

OMG! Loved it. Part of me regrets the early 20th Century American habit of plundering Europe for treasure, but the rest of me loves seeing what they procured. And they did it in spades here. We never did find any S-G, but were amply compensated by what we did find. We saw several empty frames, from which the paintings had been stolen in 1990, a case still unsolved, but again in the news. Recently, a tape emerged showing an unidentified visitor the night before the robbery. I was told the various law enforcement agencies didn’t cooperate, or they might have had early success.

My favorite painting was a self-portrait by a young Rembrandt–he was 23 at the time. Couldn’t get a photo of it, but he looked exactly like a slightly-younger Josh Groban. Look it up n Google Images–Rembrandt self-portrait Gardner. Or if you can send me a copy to plug in, I’d be glad to do that.

And I did find this huge painting, Il Jaleo,P1010722 by John Singer Sargent. It’s almost life-sized, and fabulous. I especially love looking for the really old stuff, from ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, or other civilizations. I prefer secular art, which rules out most of the medieval period. There is a roofed garden area, and the house, all four stories, surrounds it. It was beautifully furnished with plants and treasures, but inaccessible to the public, and had some of the oldest stuff. It was in Gardner’s will that the museum had to be maintained as she had arranged it, with paintings, furniture, musical instruments, from various ages and epochs all piled together, and not added to. So it’s a double museum: what she assembled, and the way it presented life at the time.

By the time Erik and I had observed as much as our eyes and brain could contain, it was time to leave. Again, I promised myself to come back whenever I could, and often. One complaint that Erik said wasn’t new: All the displays had only natural light, which happened to be good today. But even so, windows were covered needlessly with mesh and lace curtains which obscured the view.  Jane Langton wrote a mystery, “Murder at the Gardner” which will no doubt make much more sense now that I’ve seen some of its wonders.

So, we staggered home to recover from sensory overload. Sandy showed up, and we headed out to Ristorante Limoncello (http://www.ristorantelimoncello.com/) for dinner. My son and I often make risotto, so I had to order that, just to see what the real stuff tastes like. I found I hadn’t even been pronouncing the name correctly–it’s RiZZZOHTTO!  Here it is:

Perfect Risotto

Perfect Risotto

And it was delicious, with a smoky mushroom taste to it, and a much creamier texture that ours ever has. Changes might be in order.  They had lasagna and fish, and we shared a wonderful appetizer. The wine was divine, and we had No Room for dessert. wow.

So, home again, after an incredibly long, wholly satisfying day. I think I’ve interested Erik and Sandy in my Saint-Gaudens quest. At any rate, they patiently listened to all my rantings. Too tired to write this post, but much to dream about. Good night.

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