Sunday, October 28, 2007

Philadelphia ---- Museum of Art, Part II

The setting of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is quite wonderful. From the staircase, looking out, one sees this fountain in the grassy oval and beyond stretches the wide flag lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway all the way to the Philadelphia City Hall.

But let's return to some of the treasures inside the building. The museum has a quite a few Auguste Rodin sculptures and this one, called Thought is a beautifully carved female head emerging from the rough block of marble. Her chin still embedded in the marble, the model for this sculpture was fellow sculptor, Camille Claudel, Rodin's mistress at the time. It reminds me of the unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo at the Accademia in Florence where it seems the figures are struggling to escape from the marble. I am always in awe of someone who can stand in front of a block of marble and envision a figure within.

After exploring the galleries of European Art 1850-1900 we passed through Modern and Contemporary Art. Below is Pablo Picasso's Head of a Woman, 1901.

As I wandered around in this museum I was very busy looking and taking photographs and if I knew the painter I would not note it down but count on finding the name of the painting later, either in the museum catalogue which I bought or in the online website. I was positive that this was a Picasso but it turns out not to be so*. I notice some writing in the upper left corner but I am unable to read it. I cannot find this anywhere, so help me out if you know what it is.

*Update: Almost 4 years later, in July of 2011, I received an email telling me this is an Picasso, called Women and Children and it is in the Museum online catalogue now. Many thanks to the anonymous emailer.

I'm quite the fan of sculpture myself and I thought you might appreciate these three works of the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi. He is best known for his very modern version of The Kiss, which is in this museum but not currently on display. The beautiful marble on the left is called Three Penguins which I think is quite evocative. Click for a better glimpse.

To end this post, for my husband who is a big fan of Joseph M W Turner, I took the following photo of the only Turner in this museum. The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, October 16, 1834.

I have to tell you that our first date was a visit to the Tate Gallery in London forty-seven years ago. Now the Tate has the largest collection of Turners in the world, with 300 Turner oil paintings and while we probably didn't see every one that day we did see a goodly number of them. No, I'm not quite the fan of Turner that he is, however we did get married anyway.

There is more to come from this wonderful museum. Not the definitive tour, but just some things that I fancied. Part I is here if you missed it.


Political Umpire said...

Superb pictures. I don't have much time or money for travel at the moment, JMB, as you'd appreciate, so it's all the more enjoyable to see something like this on a Monday morning. Keep up the good work.

Dragonstar said...

My husband loves Turner too.
I've posted a Hallowe'en treat for you on my blog. Enjoy!

Janice Thomson said...

I could not figure out the signature either Jmb - and I don't recognize the painting.
Love the penguin sculpture too - a very beautiful piece.
I too like a lot of Turner's works - his landscape scenes in particular.
Great post Jmb.

Ellee said...

If you ever get to visit the Tate, do let me know and we can meet up. I love the Nat Portrait Gallery, so many interesting lives captured on canvas.

Carver said...

I love the way you give us a tour of what you fancied at the Philadelphia Museum. The first shot of the fountain struck me. How romantic that you and your husband had your first date at the Tate Gallery, or I find that romantic. I have only been to the Tate Gallery once and that was 33 years ago, but I have at least some vague recollections. As ever, Carver

jams o donnell said...

It looks like it has a stunning collection. I would love to see Brincusi's work in the flesh so to speak.

I love Turner myself and I work not far from the Tate Britian. I do enjoy spending time in the Clore Gallery.

Josie said...

Omigosh, the Philadelphia Museum of Art looks spectacular. Philadelphia is one city I have always wanted to visit. But this museum - *sigh*

I tried to read the signature on that painting, and it almost looked like Klimt, but that's not his style. I'll see if I can find it.

Josie said...

Silly me, I was looking at the wrong painting. You're talking about the one below it. I can't read that signature on the upper left corner either.

jmb said...

Hi Pu,
Well you do have other priorities but there are lots of lovely things to see in Britain when you do get your head above water.

Hi Dragonstar,
Well your husband and mine would get along just fine. Does he like cricket too?

Hi Janice,
I am so mad that I don't remember the artist of that painting. I liked it a lot and was sure I knew the artist so didn't write it down. Isn't the penguin sculpture beautiful? So abstract but just what it says.

Hi Ellee,
When I lived in London for the year and a half we went to all the galleries regularly and the museums. Vancouver has a pretty poor art gallery although every now and again they have a decent exhibition.

Hi Carver,
I fancied a lot more let me tell you but the photos did not turn out well enough. The Tate is now know as Tate Britain because there are other Tate galleries.

Hi Jams,
Lucky you to be so close. I once worked near the British Museum for three weeks on a locum stint and I went there every day for lunch.

Hi Josie,
You were my best hope for the painting. I'll have to go back again to check it out.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.

Liz said...

We went to a Tate exhibition last year that included works by Turner. I was a bit disappointed I have to say. A few were outstanding but the others less so, I felt. But I'm not really an art appreciator!

You're right about Thought. I can feel her struggle to break out of the marble!

Anonymous said...

I have been doing some painting to add to my excellence in the field of literature - it is quite a thought that one day my little scribbles will join those works of art!

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I have this image of Turner sitting easel in hand as the flames raged...

Somewht like Nero fiddling as Rome burned.

Voyager said...

I find Turner insipid. And I realize that statement would be considered heretical by many. I do love the marble person trying to escape out of the block of stone.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, wonderful pics. That DOES look like a Picasso but I'm afraid I can't help you on what it is. Lovely story of your first date!

jmb said...

Hi Liz,
I don't think very highly of Turner either. I find them a bit boring myself. Isn't thought great?

Hi Mutley,
You are a dog of many talents and if your art is as good as your scribbles we'll be hoping to see a book soon.

Hi Crushed,
That's a great thought. He did see it in person but painted it later, I'm assuming.

Hi Voyager
All those seascapes of Turner's look the same to me but the "old scientist" loves them.

Hi Welshcakes
It's very frustrating not to be able to find this painter and name of the painting.

Thanks to all for visiting and commenting.