The year was 1990. Two men disguised as Boston police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum telling museum guards they were responding to a call. Both security guards on duty on March 18th were handcuffed by the impersonators and brought down to the museum’s basement and not discovered until the next morning. Last weekend was furrylittlegnome’s first visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Located in the Fenway section of Boston, the museum is easily accessible by the subway’s MFA stop on the green line. From there, the four-story building is a five minute walk. While the Museum of Fine Arts has a wonderful John Singer Sargent exhibit, the Gardner Museum houses special Sargent pieces as well. Fact: Isabella Stewart Gardner and John Singer Sargent were close friends for over forty years.
After purchasing a $15 ticket for admission ($12 for seniors), one walks down the hallway and instantly sees the famous indoor courtyard that is in the center of the building. This photo is from the first floor and gnome’s only photo of the inside. Lots of security were present and signs posted throughout the museum stated no photographs were allowed. The first floor is rather dark with the “West Cloister” and the “East Cloister” and “Spanish Cloister” outlining the courtyard. It is in the Spanish Cloister where furrylittlegnome encounters her first John Singer Sargent painting – “El Jaleo”.
Moving up to the second floor, we enter the “Dutch Room” – a room wallpapered from head to toe in regal green. Two empty and impressive frames hang on a wall. This is the room where Rembrandt and Vermeer paintings were stolen in March of 1990. It is the museum’s hope to one day hang those paintings back where they rightfully belong.
Another room of note on the second floor is the “Tapestry Room” – a dark room full of large tapestries that reminded furrylittlegnome of the Cluny Museum in Paris.
Going up our final set of stairs to the third floor (the fourth floor is closed to visitors), gnome encounters a free talk occurring in the “Gothic Room”. The discussion is focused on Mrs Stewart and of a portrait of her by Mr. Sargent that is life size and in a corner. Here, furrylittlegnome learns a few things: Isabella Gardner Stewart came to Boston from New York and was the product of a wealthy family. She was a fan of the Red Sox and a patron of the arts. In fact, each piece in the museum was placed by the eye of Isabella Gardner Stewart. In her will, if anything was significantly moved, the museum must sell the museum’s possessions.
Gnome cannot wait to visit in the spring to see the gardens outdoors in full bloom!