A Break from Reality at the Gardner

I have been craving — yes, craving — a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

When I was younger, maybe 10 or 12, my mom packed my sister and I into a car and drove us to Boston for the day. We were going to see her favorite museum, something "unlike anything else you can find in the US."

Why spend 6 hours in a car to visit a museum for a couple hours? Well, you haven't seen anything yet.

There's something about this palazzo that can't be expressed in words.

It's a magical haven in the middle of Boston, a reminder why artifacts from diverse time periods are fascinating, and how legacy can be meticulously yet whimsically created.

My love for this museum is never ending.

And sitting on a carved stone bench by the courtyard hearing the water fountains' trickle at the end of a busy week is the best spot for reflection.

Now pour yourself a cuppa or pop the bubbly and sit back to enjoy the Gardner with me!

El Jaleo, John Singer Sargent, 1882.

The real majesty of the building can be found in the central courtyard.

Almost every room and hallway has a window overlooking the evergreen courtyard, light pouring into each space of the house.

On this particular afternoon, I headed straight for the second floor to the Raphael Room where Carlo Crivelli's Saint George sits. My favorite place to revisit each time I come here.

Saint George Slaying the Dragon, Carlo Crivelli, 1470.

At university I wrote my honors thesis on artwork created in the 'periphery' (not a 'center' like Rome or Florence) in Renaissance Italy, Crivelli being my focus.

The Gardner was a total gem that year and actually hosted a Crivelli exhibit while I was working on my thesis (it was an absolute win while researching)!

From there you drift from room to room trying to see every single item in the place — I've been here several times and still have probably only seen half of Isabella's collection!

You see the haunting frames from the infamous Gardner heist where Manets, Rembrandts, and Degas, among others, were cut right out of their frames and stolen by two men posing as policemen.

Read more here.

Christ Carrying the Cross, Giovanni Bellini, 1505-1510.

Bellini and Titian's laying about as though anyone could have them in their home!

And whole pieces of architecture from European facades assist in supporting the building as though they were originally from the place.

Portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner, John Singer Sargent, 1888.

You get a taste for her close friendship with Sargent through the number of portraits of Isabella in the house and the number of Sargent paintings in the collection.

Portrait of Isabella Clara Eugenia Archduchess of Austria, Frans Pourbus II, 1598.

Fancy the Gothic room?

Or perhaps the more dramatic Tapestry Room?

Smoke of Ambergris, John Singer Sargent, 1880.

I can never wrap my head around the fact that this woman was wealthy enough to procure such a vast collection of artwork — so many in fact that paintings are stacked on one on top of the other so that there's enough room to see them all.

Even then you have to crane your neck around corners because there's just so much to see — it's a never-ending treasure trove!

Each visit I wonder if I could live here as Isabella did, and I always come out of the museum nodding my head an ecstatic 'yes.'

Go and lose yourself in the cavernous Gardner Museum, you'll feel refreshed and be rearing to go on a trip to Europe!

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