Thursday, January 03, 2008


My father’s Christmas gift to my mother is a trip to Washington, D.C.

My mother is keen to do some serious art viewing, and she has not had an opportunity to do so since September, when we spent hours and hours at Tate Britain, The National Gallery Of Art and The National Portrait Gallery at Trafalgar Square, The Courtauld Institute Of Art, The Queen’s Gallery and The Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

There are no major exhibitions on the schedule this winter at any of the Twin Cities art museums. My mother did not go to Zurich when my father traveled there on business in November, so she was not able to explore Zurich’s great art museums. The trip to Washington is intended to make up for the lack of anything notable on the art front in the Twin Cities and my mother having missed out on Zurich.

My parents leave Friday night. They have to go this weekend if they are to see the J.M.W. Turner exhibition at The National Gallery Of Art, because the exhibition’s final day is Sunday. The Edward Hopper exhibition continues for a couple more weeks at The National Gallery, as does the Spain exhibition, “Legacy: Spain And The United States In The Age Of Independence, 1763-1848”, at The National Portrait Gallery.

However, it is the Turner exhibition that my mother most wants to see. This is so even though we all spent four hours exploring the Clore Galleries at Tate Britain in September, viewing every single Turner watercolor and painting on display at the time. Because so many rare marine paintings, seldom shown, are on display in Washington, my mother very much wants to see the Turner exhibition.

Joshua and I and my middle brother gave my mother the exhibition catalogs for the Turner, Hopper and Spain exhibitions as Christmas gifts. (Josh and I had picked up all three catalogs during our visit to Washington in early December, when we attended all three exhibitions.) My mother has already had a chance to go through all three catalogs, at least briefly, and I believe she will enjoy these exhibitions very much.

My parents also plan to visit a special exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum that Josh and I missed, “Kindred Spirits: Asher B. Durand And The American Landscape”. “Kindred Spirits” is a monographic exhibition of 57 Durand landscape paintings. The most famous painting on display is, naturally, “Kindred Spirits”, the celebrated 1849 painting sold by The New York Public Library to Alice Walton a couple of years back. Joshua mentioned “Kindred Spirits” and its controversial sale to Walton in one of his recent posts discussing the even more controversial Arthur Schlesinger, the American polemicist.

My parents will remain in Washington until Monday morning. While they are away, Joshua and I will have the dog in our care. We will keep him fed and exercised and entertained.

We got a preview entertaining the dog last night, because Joshua and I went over to my parents’ house for dinner. We watched the Oklahoma-West Virginia bowl game, which turned into a wake for Oklahoma fans. The game was so gruesome that we spent ninety per cent of our time playing with the dog and only ten percent of our time watching the Sooners implode.


  1. Andrew:

    I wish your parents have a terrific and beautiful time in D.C. seeing those wonderful exhibitions!


  2. Thank you, J.R. That is very kind of you.

    My mother likes art very much, so I am sure that my parents will have a very good time.

    Don't forget that the Hopper exhibition moves to Chicago next month!


  3. Drew, I am pleased you had good holidays. Mine were restful and relaxing. I hope your parents enjoy the Turner show. CC

  4. Thank you, Calvin.

    My parents are probably viewing the Turner exhibition right this very minute, because their intent was to get in line first thing this morning, as soon as The National Gallery opened for the day. Apparently attendance for the Turner exhibition has been extraordinary, and I am told that crowds during the last ten days or so have been monstrous.

    Oddly, attendance for the Hopper exhibition has been disappointing, or so I am told. Hopper is not attracting the number of visitors many had expected.

    To me, it is reassuring that the Turner exhibition, and not the Hopper exhibition, is receiving the lion's share of attention. This is as it should be.

    I am pleased that you enjoyed your holidays. I hope your year is off to a good start.


  5. Calvin, the Turner exhibition was a real eye-opener for me.

    There are several Turner paintings in the Washington exhibition that made me appreciate Turner fully, for the first time. A couple of the paintings in question are from Tate Britain, but I never saw those paintings on display at Tate Britain, despite multiple visits.

    I realize that Tate Britain owns so many Turners that it can only display a fraction of its Turner holdings. Nonetheless, it is amazing to realize that some of Turner's greatest masterpieces are kept in storage, seldom seeing the light of day.

    One of the greatest Turner paintings on display in Washington is from The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. It is the largest canvas Turner ever created, portraying the Battle Of Trafalgar. It is breathtaking.

    Another great Trafalgar painting, portraying the death of Admiral Lord Nelson, is from Tate Britain. I think the latter was my very favorite work in the entire exhibition. I have never seen it on display in London.