Eerie Isabella

Eerie Isabella

Eerie Isabella 768 1024 Suzanna Hamilton

Horus Hawk guards the inner courtyard.

Where once the Vemeer hung is now empty.

The Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston is a perennial favorite with visitors. Not only did avant-garde Gardner build a massive collection of art and antiquities from around the globe and house it in a replica of a large 15th century Venetian villa, but the Gardner heist in 1990 remains one of the world’s great unsolved art mysteries.  When Rembrandt’s only seascape was stolen along with one of only 34 known Vermeer’s and other works by Degas, Manet, and Flinck, the Gardner Museum became more renowned for the heist that required that the empty frames remain hanging from the night of the heist, than for the museum’s eclectic founder and her wide-ranging collection. The inner courtyard is tranquil as the Horus Hawk from 331 B.C. that stands guard near the fountain. However, as light and peaceful as the courtyard is, the rest of the house is the oppressive and dark. Ornate, massive in scale, and cloaked in dark colors and heavy materials, much of the mediocre decorative arts and furnishings are lost in such oppressive environments. It’s an interesting place to see once, but it’s more of a tourist attraction than a museum, and more the home of an eccentric, lonely woman than a carefully curated collection of the best of any one particular genre of art.