Boston, Massachusetts: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Sign in front of the museum

Trip Taken: 2010

The mention of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum immediately brings up one event; the tragedy that is the theft of the many pieces of art including the three irreplaceable pieces by Vermeer and Rembrandt. For me, ‘The Concert’ by Vermeer is the real tragedy as Vermeer was not a prolific artist like his peers were and they stood out for their composition and color. But I was in Boston and I had to see how they are still handling their loss in what is considered the biggest art heist in history.

Note: Unfortunately, there is no photography in the museum so you’ll have to look up the pieces of art yourselves.

Venetian Courtyard

Once you pass the Spanish cloister at the entrance of the museum, you will immediately see the Venetian courtyard. In contrast to the Roman courtyard you will find at the Boston Public Library, this courtyard is much more ornate with plenty of variety in the plants. There are several representations of women in the courtyard (and throughout the museum). The Venetian courtyard is definitely one of the stars of the museum and can be seen from virtually every part of the museum. Be sure to look from the top down into courtyard when you are on the third floor.

Dutch Room and the Stolen Paintings

I was surprised and happy with how they treated the art theft. Since, Isabella Stewart Gardner insisted that everything in the museum be kept just the way she had placed it. With the theft of the three pieces in the Dutch Room on the top floor of the museum, the space for those pieces were left blank. You can tell that those pieces are missed by the museum and by not replacing them, the museum is still hopeful that those pieces will be returned safely. And really. There aren’t that many collectors in the world who would buy them. Of course, unless they are wily and unscrupulous.

Some highlights for me were ‘El Jaleo’ and ‘Portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner’ by Sargent and ‘Europa’ by Titian.

Parting Words

Isabella Stewart Gardner was a huge patron of the arts. She made several friends in the art world and frequently sponsored promising artists. To this day, the museum hosts an artist in residence to be inspired by the museum. Also, they have weekly concerts in the concert hall in the upper floors of the museum. It is a great space and definitely a worthwhile visit in addition to the MFA down the street.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.