As I get older I appreciate more and more being able to view incredible works of art in museums that allow me to get so close I could touch the paintings if I wanted to. I can get so close as to actually smell the paint Vincent Van Gogh used to make the paintings in the picture above. To me, it seems pointless to visit a museum where I can't get up close to the works. Why? Today I can see most works in world class museums online, but it doesn't provide the feeling one gets when they view an original on display, where I can see how it was viewed by the painter and the difference in style and location intended by the artist.
Vincent Van Gogh and Leonardo Da Vinci lived a few hundred years apart. Both are considered master painters and are known throughout the world, even today, but their style could not be further apart. In Da Vinci's Ginerva de' Benci, 1474, (above, center, the only Da Vinci work in the Western Hemisphere) you can barely see the brush strokes of the artist, and the result is lifelike, with smooth, realistic tones. Van Gogh used lots of paint and strong aggressive brush strokes with greens and yellows and blues to paint humans ...and it worked.
Above are three paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn, in the Dutch Masters gallery. In the center is The Mill, 1645.
Above is your humble blogger discussing an Italian painting with my son. I should mention the National Gallery of Art is FREE to visit every day of the year except Christmas, when all the Smithsonian museums are closed.
A Girl with a Watering Can, by French artist Aguste Renoir.
A month prior to this visit, the National Gallery had a special exhibit of a few hundred works by American artist George Bellows, famous for his paintings of early 20th century boxing matches and turn of the century scenes in New York City. The National Gallery houses two of his more famous paintings permanently (above and below).