Isabella Stewart Gardner was a very interesting person.
She loved travelling and loved art. She was an art collector and a philanthropist.
She began to collect art in 1890, bringing art to America from the Middle East, Central Europe, Paris, Egypt, America, and Asia.
She rapidly built a world-class collection primarily of paintings and statues, as well as tapestries, photographs, silver, ceramics and manuscripts, and architectural elements such as doors, stained glass, and mantelpieces. The Gardner collection includes work by some of Europe’s most important artists, such as Botticelli’s Madonna and Child with an Angel, Titian’s Europa, and Raphael’s The Colonna Altarpiece, and Diego Velázquez.
Her favourite destination was Venice, Italy and I don’t blame her for that.
Eccentric, weird for her time, she had exquisite artist friends as John Singer Sargent, Henry James, Okakura Kakuzo, Francis Marion Crawford, to mention just a few.
After her husband’s death, she hired architect Willard T. Sears to build a museum modeled on the Renaissance Palazzo Barbaro of Venice. After the construction she placed every object of her collection according to her personal taste. The eclectic gallery installations, paintings, sculpture, textiles, and furniture from different periods and cultures combine to create a rich, complex and unique narrative.
The museum opened in 1903 with a big opening which included a performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
After she died in 1919, she left $1 million to support the museum, along with strict orders not to touch how the house was left after she died. The house remains like that.
The new addition to the Gardner Museum remains welcoming, the expansion space adds a touch of colour and magnifies the initial idea of Gardner of celebrate international music, art and food!
So if you visit Boston, this is one museum that you must see, its extraordinary.