The National Gallery of Art resides at the National Mall and within walking distance of the Lincoln Memorial. Also known as the National Arts Museum, the artworks here narrate the growth of Western Arts all the way from the Medieval Period until the present day. The nucleus of the museum, which opened in the year 1941 in the city, includes the collections of Andrew W. Mellon. In fact, the increase in the private collections of the financier led to the construction of one more building for housing the artifacts. Mellon’s children funded the construction of the ‘East Building’, and American Chinese architect I.M. Pei was chosen to conceive the triangular architecture of the museum vault.
The admission to the National Gallery of Art is free of cost from Mondays to Saturdays 10:00 am to 05:00 pm, and stays open from 11:00 am to 05:00 pm on Sundays. In case you are short on time, you can seek the help of coordinators from the private tours of DC for an overall navigation, which would make your visit purposeful.
In the year 1990, the museum recycled vintage photographs starting from the origins of the art form to the present day. The establishment is also home to the ‘sculpture garden’ that spans six acres of expanse and houses artworks like ‘Thinker on a Rock’ and ‘House I’ to name two. Below is an overview of what you can catch on your next visit to one of the best tourist hubs in Washington DC.
Ginevra de’ Benci by Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo Da Vinci is renowned all over the world for the artistry and for pioneering a unique hierarchy of color on canvas. Ginevra de’ Benci is actually one of his earliest paintings, which features a backside containing a wreath and a palm featuring Latin inscriptions that denotes beauty and virtue. The oil canvas portrait in the National Arts Museum is from the same painter of the mysterious Mona Lisa. In fact, Da Vinci completed Ginevra de’ Benci during 1474 to 1478 period, prior to painting the Mona Lisa.
In place of the mysterious smile, picture a lady featuring a forlorn look and there you have at it – a portrait of an aristocrat and the offspring of a rich Florentine banker on canvas. Interestingly, this Renaissance era painting from Leonardo Da Vinci is the only one featuring in the Americas.
The First Five Presidents by Gilbert Stuart
One of the fascinating artworks in the gallery is the ‘Gibbs-Coolidge Collection’. These works depict the first five presidents of the United States namely George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. All of them were depicted on canvas with cues from familial paintings and are gorgeous to look at even after all the passing of time.
Another painting of a similar nature is ‘The Washington Family’ by Edward Savage, which depicts George Washington, his spouse cum First Lady, Martha, alongside their grandchildren. In fact, the First President of America had no biological children, and had taken several years to come to terms with the fact. However, the familial residence ‘Mount Vernon’ featuring in the city capital tells a different story of love and foster care.
The Gallery of the Louvre by Samuel Morse
This artwork was not met with acclaim when it was displayed back in the heyday of Morse, but prompted him to leave painting profession only to pioneer human communication. Samuel Morse is renowned for inventing the Telegraph and conceiving the ‘Morse Code,’ which represents both longer and shorter sight signals.
The painting, which sits on canvas at 6 x 9 feet dimensions, depicts a section of the Louvre Museum, hanging up to 38 artworks on the wall. If you are a fan of fine arts, you must pay an in-person visit to this particular section that resides to the ‘West Building’ in the National Arts Museum. In fact, the Mona Lisa also finds a spot in the ‘Gallery of the Louvre’ painting as it does in the real gallery of the Parisian museum as believed.
Joshua Commanding by John Martin
This painting of Joshua praying to the Almighty to lead moon and sun to a halt so that the biblical battle can be continued in daytime at Gibeon is a delight to all. The downpour and the hailstones were set in motion by the Almighty upon his command, and Martin depicts the biblical chapter on canvas perfectly using landscape paintings and inborn imagination.
Apart from that, the National Gallery of Art also features Rodin sculptures and artworks tracing back to the Bronze Age and many other masterpieces from American painters. For instance, ‘The Return of Rip Van Winkle’ by John Quidor depicts the fictional character that featured in a story by Washington Irving. It is said that Rip slept before the American Revolutionary War and woke up some 20 years later only to discover he had a namesake son and a grandson.