Reeling from sheer delight at the National Gallery

September 20, 2014 at 10:51 pm (Art, Ballet, Local interest (Baltimore-Washington))

Some friends and I wanted to see the Degas / Cassatt exhibit. This was enjoyable, if less than spectacular. Of course, one loves the little girl in the blue chair, the perfect picture of youthful ennu:

Mary_Cassatt_-_Little_Girl_in_a_Blue_Armchair_-_NGA_1983.1.18

(This work puts me in mind of the painting of Agatha Christie as a young girl that hangs in Greenway, the writer’s country home on the Devon coast.

agatha_painting_nt_340x450.1jpg The colors are different; the body language and facial expressions, similar.)

I especially loved Degas’s Rehearsal in the Studio. There’s something about the way the light flows into the room….

Edgar-Degas-Rehearal-in-the-Studio

After viewing the exhibit, we each went our separate ways. I decided to seek out some of my favorites from among the works in the National Gallery’s permanent collection. It had been too long since I’d seen them.
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I actually saw Manet’s The Old Musician while on my way to Degas / Cassatt. It stopped me in my tracks.

Édouard_Manet_-_Le_Vieux_Musicien

I’m not sure why this painting affects me as it does. I am held by the musician’s unwavering gaze.  I feel a powerful urge to enter right into the scene. In my mind, I do just that.
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John_Constable_-_Wivenhoe_Park,_Essex_-_Google_Art_Project

Everything I love about “England’s green and pleasant land” is embodied here in John Constable’s Wivenhoe Park, Essex. (Be sure to click to enlarge.)
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The Danae, by Titian. We’re lucky to have this masterpiece. It was looted by the Nazis and recovered by the famous Monuments Men from inside a salt mine in Austria. 06danae
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Man in Oriental Costume - Rembrandt

Man in Oriental Costume – Rembrandt

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Madame Bergeret - Francois Boucher

Madame Bergeret – Francois Boucher

‘Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.’
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La Camargo dancing , by Nicolas Lancret

La Camargo dancing , by Nicolas Lancret

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I was not familiar with this moving work by Murillo, but it summoned up pictures I’ve seen of the same subject as portrayed by Rembrandt. (This painting is in Russia’s Hermitage Museum.):

It’s interesting, the power that this New Testament parable holds over the artistic imagination. (It appears only in the gospel of Saint Luke.) The Murillo canvas is certainly beautiful (and I confess that I especially appreciate the sweet presence of the small dog), but Rembrandt’s rendering is something quite apart and almost unbearably poignant.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is my husband’s favorite passage from the Bible.  Ron is especially partial to the ballet, with music by Sergei Prokofiev and choreography by the great George Balanchine. This video is of a 1978 performance by the New York City Ballet, with the incomparable Mikhail Barishnikov as the Prodigal. The last few minutes are just – well, I lack the words to describe that scene. You’ll have to see for yourself:

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Lorraine S. said,

    My Harrisburg AAUW Culture Vultures will be visiting this Sat. Can’t wait. Thanks for the great pictures and accompanying comments.

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