Tuesday, June 10, 2014

National Gallery of Art

And here it is, the last post from my DC trip!  It's only taken me 2.5 months to get all of these up, NBD.  
The National gallery is GORGEOUS!  It's worth a visit just to see the architecture of the building.  I also liked the layout of this museum, it is divided into four sections, Italian, Dutch, American and French, so it was easy to navigate and find the paintings everyone wanted to see.
I was in charge of creating a fun event for the kids so they wouldn't get bored, luckily the National Gallery of Art has wonderful children's activity books for each section of the museum.  We divided up into groups and pairs and completed an activity book for each part of the museum, the kids totally loved it!  I was with Will and Ben and they got so into the activities, one of my favorite memories I will take home from this trip is sitting in different rooms of the museum with Will and Ben, having great discussions about different famous works of art, we discussed subject matter, color palates, techniques and a variety of other art related topics.  I hope they got as much out of these activities as I did!

If you ever visit the National Gallery with kids, I would highly suggest picking some of these up at the information desk, they are free and are amazing resources.  They teach kids so much about the different types of art and have such a variety of different activities to keep the kids entertained.  Click HERE to get more information about these awesome guides.

This series of paintings was one of my favorite things I saw in this museum.  I have never seen or heard anything about them prior to my visit to the NGA, but I found them so stunning.  The attention to detail and the delicacy of the angels wings just blows me away.  And I always love paintings that tell a story and are filled with symbolism.

The Voyage of Life

"The Voyage of Life, painted by Thomas Cole in 1842, is a series of paintings that represent an allegory of the four stages of human life: childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. The paintings follow a voyager who travels in a boat on a river through the mid-19th-century American wilderness. In each painting, accompanied by guardian angel, the voyager rides the boat on the River of Life. The landscape, corresponding to the seasons of the year, plays a major role in telling the story. In each picture, the boat's direction of travel is reversed from the previous picture. In childhood, the infant glides from a dark cave into a rich, green landscape. As a youth, the boy takes control of the boat and aims for a shining castle in the sky. In manhood, the adult relies on prayer and religious faith to sustain him through rough waters and a threatening landscape. Finally, the man becomes old and the angel guides him to heaven across the waters of eternity."

Young Girl Reading
Jean Fragonard 
c. 1770

I adore all Jean Fragonard's works, they are so feminine and elegant.

There are easels in the different galleries in the museum that artists can use to paint different works of art.  The lady pictured below was working on a commissioned piece.

Gievra de' Benci
Leonardo Da Vinci
c. 1474

The Alba Madonna
c. 1510

The Dying Gaul
1st or 2nd Century AD

I was ecstatic to hear that The Dying Gaul would be at the NGA while we were there!!! It is normally housed at the wonderful Capitoline Museums in Rome and I had the privilege of seeing this exquisite statue when I did my study abroad.  It is one of those works of art that demands a reverence and respect.  The emotion is so raw and deep and is captured with such exactitude.

I was most excited for the Dutch section of the museum.  I have a deep connection with Dutch still lives since I spent a semester of my undergrad studying them in depth and detail while writing my senior thesis.  I find them endlessly fascinating.  The detail and symbolism are unbeatable and I was excited to share my passion and knowledge with my nephews.

Woman Holding a Balance
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1664

I also get chills seeing paintings by Vermeer, he truly was a master


  1. This is my favorite place here in DC :) I could gush for ages, so I'll just give a resounding AMEN to what you wrote :)

  2. loved the commentary and detailed pictures of the voyage of life! You made those boys day...it could have been boring, but with you it was "my favorite museum!" (quote from Will).