Last night I took Lyndsay on a YW trip to the Norton Simon Art Museum in Pasadena. So cool. I heart art museums. Maybe it's a remnant of my mother in me, who was an Art History major, who is the most talented artist I know, and who taught me to do anything artistic that I can do. Every time I see a Cassatt, I think of her. Mary Cassatt used the theme of mothers and children prolifically, which is probably why both my mother and I appreciate her work, but I didn't see any Cassatt's last night.
This is the 100th anniversary of Norton Simon's birth. There was a fascinating display highlighting the development of his collection of art, and giving a history of the acquisition of some of the works. I've always been curious about the behind-the-scenes of art acquisition, so I loved this small display. Simon made one of his most important acquisitions on March 19, 1965, when he purchased Rembrandt's Portrait of a Boy, Presumed to be the Artist's Son, Titus, buying it for $2,234,000 in a very controversial and publicized sale at Christie's in London. He had turned down the chance to buy Titus in 1963, but was ready to bid on the painting when it came up for auction in 1965. However, he wanted to remain anonymous, so he devised a plan to allow him to communicate silently with the auctioneer. It was a complicated and complex "code" made up of combinations of sitting, standing, and raising a finger. Unfortunately, the auctioneer mistakenly misread Simon's charades, and thought he had dropped out of the bidding, and the painting was sold to someone else. Simon immediately demanded the bidding be reopened and after five minutes of arguing, it was, and Simon made the final bid. At the time, Titus was the second most expensive work of art sold at auction. And even though he had originally wished to remain anonymous, he appeared with the painting on the cover of Time magazine on June 4, 1965. Norton Simon considered Titus, along with Raphael's Madonna and Child with Book, c. 1502-03, to be his greatest acquisitions. There was an abundance of fascinating stories like this, that brought to life the man behind the collection.
We saw several Renoir's, some Rembrandt portraits, along with a collection of his etchings, some Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Raphael, Van Gogh, and Degas. Lots of Degas. And not only Degas' paintings, but many, many bronzes, of both dancers and horses. Norton Simon purchased an entire collection of seventy modele bronzes, which means they were the bronze master casts taken from Degas' wax originals, and from which all subsequent sets were produced. They were lovely. Lyndsay fell in love with Degas. (Must be the dancer in her.) She has great taste. I bought her a very cool art poster of a Degas ballerina bronze in the museum gift store, which I will give her for Christmas.
So, I've reconfirmed that I really like 16th and 17th century Dutch art, but not so much French of the same era. I like later French artists, though. Maybe this is due to my Dutch ancestors tainting me with a spiritual bias through the veil?
Favorite pieces of the night?
Edgar Degas, Women Ironing c.1884
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait c. 1636-38
Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of a Boy, Presumed to Be the Artist's Son, Titus c. 1645-50
Edgar Degas, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1878-81, Bronze
Vincent van Gogh, Mulberry Tree, 1889
Georges Lacombe, Chestnut Gatherers, 1893-94
There were so many, though! What a collection! I wish my art expert friend, Luisa, had been with me to give me a tutorial as we browsed the galleries. I would have learned so much more. I've always felt that the finest existence is one in which one is surrounded by beauty and wisdom in art, literature, music, and nature. Even a simple home, filled with treasures of books, well-chosen art, diverse and uplifting music, some nature inside and a view of nature outside....well, that's just about heaven!
Wish I had better pictures. Dumb, stupid camera.