Published: April 20, 2004
Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Palazzo Barbaro Circle
“Gondola Days: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Palazzo Barbaro Circle” will be exhibited April 21-August 15 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The Palazzo Barbaro, that double-wide palace near the Accademia Bridge on the Grand Canal in Venice, is the inspiration for the final exhibition of the Centennial Celebration at the museum.
In the late Nineteenth Century, Boston art patron Isabella Stewart Gardner was part of a remarkable circle of European and American artists, writers, patrons and musicians who gathered at the Barbaro to draw inspiration from each other, as well as to partake of the cultural riches of Venice. In a special international loan exhibition celebrating Venetian expatriate activities, the Gardner Museum explores the vibrant artistic and intellectual life at the Palazzo Barbaro and its influence on contemporary art, literature, architecture and design at the turn-of-the-century.
The Palazzo Barbaro epitomized the city’s salon culture and was frequented by American and European artists and writers, including John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Henry James, Anders Zorn, Robert Browning and Claude Monet.
Sargent painted in a studio on the premises and immortalized the expatriate Bostonian owners – Daniel and Ariana Curtis – in his painting “A Venetian Interior”; James stayed there and used the Barbaro as a setting for his novel The Wings of the Dove; Browning delighted guests with his poetry readings; Monet painted views across the Grand Canal from the gondola landing of the Barbaro.
The Palazzo Barbaro was a dramatic influence on Gardner: she and her husband Jack rented the palazzo on their frequent visits to the city, and motifs from the Barbaro were an inspiration, one hundred years ago, for the creation of her own museum – Boston’s only Venetian palace – known as “Fenway Court.”
The exhibition brings together an important collection of paintings, watercolors, pastels, prints and drawings by the circle of artists who frequented the Barbaro, as well as scrapbooks, photographs, letters and other ephemera by visitors and guests. It invites visitors to the museum’s fourth floor, a space built as Gardner’s private residence, where she lived for over 20 years, which preserves aspects of Gardner’s apartment, including works of art and original architectural detailing. Now museum offices transformed into temporary galleries, the fourth floor has never before been open to the public.
Evening lectures and a special exhibition concert, as well as ongoing daytime talks, are presented in conjunction with “Gondola Days.” An illustrated catalog printed in English and Italian editions will be available. Timed tickets and an additional admission fee apply. General admission is $13.
The museum is at 280 The Fenway. For information, www.gardnermuseum.org or 617-278-5107.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm