Tuesday, July 5

A Visit to The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

My Photo of Renoir's
 Luncheon of the Boating Party
I was in Washington, D.C. last week and had the pleasure of visiting The Phillips Collection. It’s a private art museum with a great collection of paintings and other works that I have been wanting to see, and finally got the chance.

The Phillips Collection is conveniently located just a block from the DuPont Circle station on the Metro Red Line.
The museum is actually three separate, but connected, buildings--the original boyhood home of Duncan Phillips, the Carriage House, and the Sant Building. It opened in 1921 with one room and 237 paintings. Today the collection numbers more than 3000 (this and following information from the Welcome brochure each visitor receives).

When it opened, the collection was primarily American and French Impressionist paintings. Phillips' wife, Mary Acker, was a painter as were some of his friends, so the collection grew to include more contemporary American artists, such as Arthue Dove, Marsden Hartley, and Georgia O’Keeffe, to name but three. Phillips also began to collect more European works by Monet,  Cezanne, and Van Gogh, as well as those of Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, and Picasso.
Later acquisitions include Degas, Alexander Calder, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Richard Diebenkorn, and a small gallery dedicated entirely to four paintings of Mark Rothko.
The museum hosts frequent exhibitions, such as the one currently on view, (Wassily) Kandinsky and the Harmony of Silence: Painting with White Border, an interesting review of Kandinsky’s creative process on this masterpiece.
Perhaps The Phillips Collection’s most famous painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880-81 by Renoir, was acquired in 1923. This iconic Impressionist painting hangs in a prominent position in one of the four galleries as you ascend the curving, marble stairway to the second level.
It’s hard to describe the feelings you have as you gaze at this most beautiful and world-renowned painting. The painting, with its vibrant colors and brilliance, appears as if it could have been painted last month. If you get to see this painting in person, be sure to note the lively expressions on the faces of the young people in the painting enjoying their lunch and wine.
As cheesy as this may sound, I did buy a magnet depicting Luncheon of the Boating Party at the gift shop. But--it’s packaging identifies each model/person in the painting—Aline Charigot, Alphonse and Alphonsine Fournaise, Raoul Barbier, Jules LaForgue, Ellen Andree, Angele, Charles Ephrussi, Gustave Caillebotte, Maggiolo, Eugene Pierre Lestringez, Paul Lhote, and Jeanne Sanary—and is a great reference.

You can even take photos of the works (without flash) except for current exhibits, so today's image is my photo of the famous painting. I truly hope that you, too, are fortunate enough to see this magnificent collection of world-famous paintings and works.

Happy Painting!

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