A painting that made me cry at the National Gallery of Art

So this week my 16 year old nephew and I celebrated his upcoming birthday with a trip to Washington DC. It was his choice, to my surprise - he'd been offered a beach vacation in San Diego or a trip to Disneyland.. and he countered with, "Can we go see some museums about American history?" I swooned!

We went to most of the Smithsonian museums, including the National Gallery of Art. Now I was definitely PMSing, and tired from the horrible heat and humidity... but I didn't expect to be so emotionally moved to run into one of the paintings I've been using (it's out of copyright, after all!) to advertise Lovely Living University on Facebook. "The Reader," or "Young Girl Reading," by French painter Jean-Honore Fragonard.  

I remember I want to ask Amy Clark, who knows so much about art, why so many paintings from say Holland, Spain, France, etc. ended up in the National Gallery here in the US instead of in their country of origin where their people can see them? 

I could not control my reaction, and I'm actually glad my nephew saw me crying when I saw this beautiful painting in person, tearing up. I hope my unanticipated reaction impressed him about the importance of art to some people. (He's a big videogamer with not much interest in anything else!) However, I'm a person who rarely cries but once I start, it's hard to stop. I was a big old raccoon-eyed mess, hoping that the museum security didn't think I was a weirdo and throw me out! I hope they see other people crying to see beautiful paintings!


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Comment by Amy Clark on July 31, 2016 at 6:03pm
  • Museums acquire the artwork from a lot of various sources. It could be that the national collection began with someone's private collection and then grew from there. There was a time when the best art was considered to be French. Now, the world acknowledges that great art can come from anywhere. I imagine the museum probably has a lot of artwork in storage so that they can rotate works in and out of the display and also use them to trade for new pieces or loan to other museums for special shows, etc.

    • There are several other art museums that specialize in American art, African-American art, Women in Art, etc.

Comment by Grace Paigen on July 31, 2016 at 5:56pm
Oh to see this in person!
Comment by Carrie Campbell on July 31, 2016 at 5:52pm


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