In my last posting I described going to the world-famous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Actually, I glossed over that museum in favor of discussing the MFA Boston because the truth is, I was disappointed in the Gardner. Perhaps that is what happens when you build something up in your mind only to arrive, pay, and find out that half of the museum is closed because of a concert. It is also disappointing when the staff yells at the visitors not to sit in certain areas and treats them like cattle. Because of its popularity, the museum is over-run with tourists. On a positive note, the collection is very interesting and the interior garden at the Gardner is beautiful.
If you really want a treat save your money and go to a historic house/art museum that is arguably better and closer to home, and less well known. The Taft Museum located in Cincinnati will thrill you if you are a lover of art, architecture, or history. The Palladian style home is considered to be one of the best examples of Federal architecture in the country. It was built in 1820 for Martin Baum and was later purchased by Nicholas Longworth. Mr. Longworth hired an African American painter named Robert S. Duncanson who created murals on the homes interior. Those murals are now considered the best example of pre civil war imagery anywhere in the country. Later, the home was owned by Anna Taft and her husband Charles Phelps Taft. Charles Taft was the brother of the president William Howard Taft. In fact, it was on the portico of the home where W.H. Taft accepted the nomination for president of the United States.
The Taft Museum has 690 works in its permanent collection. Among those works are some of the best examples of American 19th century painting any where in the world. Included in those works are several examples by the famous Cincinnati artist, Frank Duveneck. Duveneck was an American expatriate and the leading figure of the Munich School in the 1870's and 1880s. During that period Duveneck was noted for applying paint in blocks of color quickly and for creating figures which emerged from a dark background (The Cobbler's Apprentice shown above is an example). In today's market, the sales of Duveneck's work are all over the place. While the 1870s and 1880s are the periods he is most noted for, the brighter, more colorful paintings of his later periods (especially those when he was in Italy) have sold for higher prices at market. Below are a few of the most recent auction records.
Title: PORTRAIT OF A GERMAN PEASANT
16" x 13"
Oil/CanvasSigned Monogram Lot: 184
Auction House: Stair Galleries
Low Est.: $500
High Est.: $700
Sales Price: $2,500
15" x 10"
Auction House: DuMouchelles Auction House
Low Est.: $5,000
High Est.: $6,000
Sales Price: $7,500
Title: THE NEW ENGLAND COAST
10.13" x 14.70"
Auction House: Sotheby's New York
Low Est.: $6,000
High Est.: $8,000
Sales Price**: -not sold-