Saturday Art: National Gallery of Art
The last week of summer has arrived, and the tour of the National Gallery of Art will end in the entry room pictured above. We have toured the West building, the original Gallery of Art.
The original building was designed by John Russell Pope, who later went on to create the Jefferson Memorial.
Pope’s design is neo-classical and resembles thePantheon, with a large dome and columned portico – not unlike the Jefferson Memorial. It has two symmetrical extended wings. The West Building houses works by pre-twentieth century American artists as well as European masters from the medieval period through the 19th century.
The quiet august gallery has treasures that we can enjoy without paying an admission fee. Of course, it was created by a Congress that had a sense of values we would love to get back. When the government gets shut down by an irresponsible Congress later this next few days, the Gallery will not be open to the public, so go now.
A resolution of Congress in 1937 established the idea of an art gallery where the people of the U.S. could view and learn about great works of art. Started with a collection of 141 works of European art donated by Andrew W. Mellon – an important American banker and industrialist – at the time of his death that same year, the gallery soon caught the eye of many other great collectors, who also began donating important works to the new gallery.In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened the new home of the new art gallery, located at the National Mall. Now known as the West Building, the museum was built at the site where President Garfield was assassinated in 1881.
A favorite that I visited with my children when they were little is the ‘Companion of Diana’ by Jean-Louis LeMoyne. The hound licking her leg captivated us, and we always stopped by to enjoy that sensual movement. The artist was a court favorite of France’s Louis XIV and XV, most of his sculpture being of court figures. This was classical as is its subject, yet whimsical unlike most of his portraits.
As you see, my photo got chopped up, as Picasaweb has made changes and is acting peculiar. However, this is our favorite part of the statue, not the classical head with its carefully sculpted curls.