Sunday, December 29, 2019


By far the most pleasant and rewarding holiday we ever had was our trip in the States in the summer of 2017. Some four hectic but fascinating days in Washington DC were followed by a trip over Gettysburg and Bethel to the White Mountains in NH (another four days), and we spent the remainder of our fortnight in Hyannisport, with a couple of hours in Boston before boarding the plane back to Europe again.

On the first leg of that journey we visited the National Art Gallery in Washington, and it must be said, they have a mar-vel-lous collection (in particular with regards to impressionist works). Here's just three paintings at random we admired there:

Portrait of a Young Woman in White - Jacques-Louis David

Probably by a pupil of Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825) though. David's career spanned cataclysmic changes in French society as he was preeminent during the latter days of the Ancien Régime, during the Terreur (he was a friend of Robespierre), while Napoleon was Empereur and even during the restoration (be it in self-exile in Brussels). David's severe neoclassical style constituted a clear break away from the frivolity of Rococo.

The Corinthian Maid, by Joseph Wright of Derby

Joseph Wright of Derby (1734 – 1797), was an English landscape and portrait painter and has been acclaimed as "the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution". Two important patrons were Josiah Wedgwood and Richard Arkwright. Wright is notable for his use of the chiaroscuro effect, which emphasises the contrast of light and dark, and for his paintings of candle-lit subjects. As for this painting, the inspiration came from Pliny the Elder (23/24 - 79 AD) who claimed that the first drawing in history was made by a young Corinthian woman. Knowing that soon her husband will be off to war, she draws a line on the wall containing his shadow, so that she will have something to remember him by. Apparently Ole Pliny never visited Lascaux or Altamira.

Lambs, Nantucket (1874) by Eastman Johnson

Jonathan Eastman Johnson (1824 – 1906) was an eminent American painter and co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. He is best known for his genre paintings, paintings of everyday life and of everyday people, but just as well of prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In his day he was known as the 'American Rembrandt'.

Exquisite, all three of them.


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