Saturday, December 12

The Scandalous Legacy of Isabella Stewart Gardner, Collector of Art and Men

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner (detail), (1888).
"The first time I encountered Isabella Stewart Gardner was the way most people do: through her museum. The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is located near Fenway Park in Boston, just a short walk from the Museum of Fine Arts. ... Isabella smoked cigarettes, and the newspaper ran stories claiming she had taken zoo lions for a stroll in the park. A dahlia bears her name, and so does a mountain peak in Washington. She once shocked all of Boston Society by showing up to the Boston Symphony Orchestra bearing a headband that declared, 'Oh you Red Sox.' She invited the Harvard Football team to her home after they beat Yale. She hosted a boxing match at her home and, while the men fought, she danced. She had two large diamonds attached to wires and wore them bouncing in her hair. At the opening of her museum, she served champagne and donuts. The woman courted the world, and the world courted the woman. ..."

2012 April: Renzo Piano’s Addition to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, 2013 March: Gardner Museum Heist Case Might Crack, 2014 April: Carla Fernández: The Barefoot Designer: A Passion for Radical Design and Community