Washington DC is a hub for American politics and history, as it teems with iconic monuments, vast museums, art galleries, and the corridors of power where great visionaries and demagogues roam. The district offers a peek into country’s democratic origin and hence it attracts many school trips as well as travelers on Washington DC tours. Besides, the capital of the US offers plenty of monuments and memorials dedicated to great American leaders and veterans of the country where you can explore for free. There are also many museums and art galleries that invite tourists from all over the world to Washington DC.
The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery of Art houses world’s preeminent preserves, collections, exhibits, and fosters the understanding of artworks at scholarly standards. The museum’s collections include around 141,000 artifacts including paintings, drawings, exhibits, sculptures, and the new media that flaunts the development of western art from the Middle Ages to the present. Below is a list of the must-see artworks in Washington DC to navigate through the history of the US.
Ginevra de’ Benci is the only portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci on public display in the whole Americas. The portrait is made about 25 years post the late 15th Century and the lady in the portrait resembles the best known Mona Lisa. Hence, people call her as Washington’s Mona Lisa and she is equally lovely and beautiful. Da Vinci portrayed Ginevra de’ Benci beautifully with his innovative naturalism, set against the landscapes rather than the clichéd parlors.
Ginevra’s skin is nearly translucent, her cheeks subtly rounded, and her hair symbolizes chastity. On the reverse side of the painting, a motto proclaims, “beauty adorns virtue”. In her time, a bride’s virtue was nothing to grin about and maybe that is why she looks so solemn.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, “luncheon of the boating party”, is the best-known masterpiece of work ever acquired by the art collector Duncan Philips in the Philips collection. The picture was finished in 1881 when impressionism was still suspect in France, but maybe because of its looser approach it was not a dramatic approach to realism and was never controversial. The artworks portray the people of various classes relaxing and are informally dressed, at least in the case of men, and hence, the Renoir’s style is more radical. According to Mark Jenkins, the revolution here is less artistic than social.
Nam Jun Paik outlined the states of the Mississippi River in electronic superhighway of 40 foot wide and is exhibited in the art museum. If you approach the tiny screen that represents the districts of Mississippi, you will see yourself in the CCTV that is one of the many lively and effervescent touches in Nam Jun’s highway assemblage. In addition, it represents the United States in images fed from 50 DVD players to 335 television sets along with the one in DC.
The screen shows the beautiful landscapes, iconic products, and clips from Hollywood movies, all flashing in certain speed limit. Additionally, the neon tubes represent the states, whereas the blue light represents the Mississippi river rippling from Minnesota to Louisiana. Mr. Nam made this amazing innovation in 1995.
Adams Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Adams memorial is commonly known as the grief and is the plaster version n of his memorial to Robert Gould Shaw. Furthermore, this memorial is not placed inside the museum, but in the Rock Creek cemetery commissioned by the great Henry Adams. The grief is a memorial to Adam’s wife who died by her own hands in 1885 and the figure is so haunting and shrouded. Adams created this memorial five years after his wife’s demise.
Olmec Jadeite Mask (900-300 BC)
This is a reproduction of original Meso-American carving and is more genuine and exquisite even though it is smaller. Moreover, the big Olmec head with downturned lips and heavy headpiece sits outside the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Furthermore, Olmec pieces can be found in the collection of the Dumbarton Oaks; the jadeite is a gem from 900-300 BC that was once thought to be a work from China.
“Soap Bubbles” by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon-Chardin
One of the outstanding works in the National Gallery of Art is the “Soap Bubbles” by Jean Siméon Chardin that was painted around 1733 showcasing an ephemeral moment. The portrait displays the magnificent work with a little bit of mystery and a beautiful and well-executed play of lights. According to critic Philip Kennicott, the portrait serves as a metaphor both for life and for the transitory experience of looking at great art.
“A-E-I-O-U and Sometimes Y” by Mickalene Thomas
This is a Rhinestone studded collage of an African-American woman created by the great artist Mickalene Thomas. The crystals in the image depict how women use to mask themselves by adorning jewels. Furthermore, according to Winyan Soo Hoo, it is the duality of how much she shares with other African-American women and all others, but yet how different she is from other women.
These are some of the pivotal masterpieces in the National Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery of Art. Besides, there are other arts innovative and eye-popping artworks like Camilo Jose Vergara, Victorious Athlete, Augustus Saint Gaudens Shaw Memorial, and many more outstanding works that you can explore during your private tours in DC.