Art is the only way to run away without leaving home– Twyla Tharp
I recently found myself with a Sunday afternoon to myself (quite a rare circumstance). Being the middle of January in New York, the options of what to do are somewhat restricted to indoor activities. I also found myself daydreaming about traveling so I started to re-read old blog posts and it wasn’t long before I was ready to dig out my passport and hop on a plane. In one post, I reminded myself of walking through the Roman Forum and seeing all of the amazing ancient architecture, visiting Rome’s museums and churches and seeing baroque sculpture where the marble seemed to come to life. In another post, I recalled roaming the Orsay Museum in Paris browsing hundreds of French Impressionist paintings. And then there was last summer’s visit to the French Riviera where we enjoyed the warm, endless, bright sun and the azure water of the Mediterranean Sea. Then the radiator in our apartment came to life, started hissing, and I snapped out of my daydream and back to the dreary, gray reality of what is January in New York.
But rather than sit at home and sulk about the cold weather and the doldrums of winter, I hopped in a cab and headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For me, no other museum can transport you all over the world like this place. In one wing, you find yourself in Europe, exploring a medieval church. Enter another wing and you are plopped into 18th century America with Boston-made silverware, furniture and portraits. And in the European Impressionist rooms, a painting by Van Gogh of a Provencal landscape will warm your skin and send you off to relax in the sun of the south of France with the sound of cicadas singing in the background.
The internet is amazing, and you can google any artist or any work of art at any museum, but seeing a piece of art in person is a different experience. My visit to the Met definitely did the trick and cured my winter blues. The following are the objects of art that quenched my wanderlust on a cold Sunday afternoon.
It’s definitely not Rome, but Walking around the Greek & Roman wing brought back great memories of the ancient architecture we have seen in Italy and France. Next up was a trip to Medieval Times. The Met’s main Medieval gallery is reminiscent of a church nave and has an amazing Choir Screen from an old church in Spain. The gallery evokes the light and atmosphere of being in one of the many churches we’ve visited in Europe.
And speaking of being plopped back into the 18th century Europe, the Met’s period rooms do just that. It’s as if I was back at Versailles admiring the French ability to gild every surface and add decoration on top of decoration.
Clock, French (Paris), ca 1780
But my travel bug is not limited to Europe. Over the years, we’ve visited tons of historic houses in Virginia (my home state), in Newport, Rhode Island, Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. We’ve toured (several times) the homes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The American Wing at the Met brings you back to Early America with their vast collection of portraits, furniture, and other decor.
My favorite part of the afternoon was strolling through the European Art Galleries. Last year, while in Provence, we saw the actual landscapes that van Gogh painted and visited towns where he once lived. We walked the streets of Aix en Provence, where Paul Cezzane lived and painted. And in Paris, we’ve visited Monmartre, where many of the impressionists lived, loved, drank and painted.
And to end my day of “traveling” the world, I visited the American Art Galleries. These galleries didn’t necessarily conjure travel memories, but the art definitely inspired me, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a few pieces that I have completely missed on my many visits to the Met over the years.
This painting by Dale Nichols is one of the ones that I have never seen before. It’s very reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s work (one of my favorite artists). Like Hopper, he chooses a sort of solemn scene but is able to capture both the glow of the sunlight as well as shadow.
This little jaunt to the Met made for a great afternoon, and I am fortunate to live in a city with such great museums like the Met. Their vast collection spans time and the almost all of the World’s cultures. And besides curing the winter blues, this visit was a great inspiration for our Summer 2017 travel planning. The itinerary is being set as publish this!