Tuesday, October 20: This morning, I meet fellow blogger Toby of Travels with Toby in Washington, D.C. Our plan is to visit the National Gallery of Art. She is from Minnesota, but is here in Virginia helping her sister to care for her elderly mother. Toby had lived in Washington during the late 80s and had visited the National Gallery of Art several times. She wanted to spend a few hours in D.C. revisiting the Impressionists. Here is Toby’s write-up of our meeting: Travels with Toby: My few hours in Washington, D.C.
I arrive before Toby because I have been commuting downtown for the last month and have the commute down pat. I sit for a while in Cosi having some coffee and a yogurt parfait. Then I make my way over to the gallery where, at the front desk, I get a brochure about the collection highlights at the museum. As I’m standing at the front desk, Toby calls and tells me she has entered the museum at the 7th St. entrance. I head in that direction and we finally meet, after several years of reading each others’ blogs on the blogosphere. Toby has a great love of Spain, having studied there at one time, and she hopes to retire there one day. I believe we met through my blog: in search of a thousand cafés. I was writing on that blog about my travels through Spain and Portugal.
The main highlight the docent pointed out to me was Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. I show Toby the brochure about the highlights and we head directly to see the dancer. She’s quite impressive.
According to the brochure Collection Highlights, “one of the many poor girls who danced for the Paris Opera, Marie van Goethem stands with head high, arms tautly stretched behind her. Degas dressed her image, the only sculpture he ever exhibited publicly, in cloth garments and human hair.”
The brochure’s map points the way to the Impressionist collection. We admire other paintings along the way, but I’m not sure what they are.
I know I recognize this painting, but I can’t for the life of me remember who the artist is. If anyone knows, please tell me in the comments. It’s driving me crazy!
Finally, we’re in the galleries that showcase the Impressionists. The National Gallery has some wonderful treasures, and I’m sorry to say my photos don’t do justice to them.
Personally, I love the Cezanne paintings. He is my favorite Impressionist for sure.
I also love Gauguin.
I ask Toby to pick her favorite painting and I take a photo of her in front of it. She chooses Renoir’s Oarsmen at Chatou.
The gallery has some beautiful atriums and rotundas and halls, where tropical gardens abound.
We pick a few more of the collection highlights from the brochure, including Niagara, by Frederic Edwin Church. According to the brochure, “Church’s powerful rendering of the magnificence of Niagara Falls made him famous virtually overnight. The vantage point just before the precipice captures the falls’ fearsome power, which the artist emphasizes with a panoramic format and by tilting the picture plane down toward the viewer. The glimmer of rainbows, the clearing sky, and the sunlight on the far shore (looking toward the US from Canada) reflect the commonly held nineteenth-century belief that spirituality could be found in nature.”
I love the light, shadows and dramatic skies of the three paintings below. I guess that’s the photographer in me that is attracted to the light.
I’ve always been a fan of John Singer Sargent, and I especially love his painting Repose.
Being a lover of all things Spanish, Toby seeks out the Francisco de Goya paintings.
Finally, we stop to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Ginevra de’ Benci. According to the brochure, “Ginevra’s face displays the delicate translucence of porcelain. Behind her, the misty landscape assumes a soft, atmospheric effect. Perhaps an engagement portrait, this is the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in North America.”
As Toby doesn’t have much time, she wants to have lunch, so we head to Penn Quarter, a short walk, where we have a fabulous lunch at oyamel cocina mexicana. According to the website: “Oyamel Cocina Mexicana combines Mexico’s rich regional diversity with the modern urban atmosphere of Mexico City: antojitos—traditional snacks or small plates—authentic and creative tacos, ceviches, and impressive desserts.” We’re served up some chips and fresh guacamole and I order camarones al mojo de ajo negro, or “wild caught Gulf Coast white shrimp sautéed with shallots, árbol chile, poblano pepper, lime and sweet aged black garlic.” We also order some papas al mole: “José Andrés’ favorite potato fries in a mole poblano sauce of almonds, chiles and a touch of chocolate, topped with Mexican cream and queso fresco.” Yum!!
The restaurant’s decor is festive, with butterflies galore, flowers on the ceilings, Mexican writing on the walls, and Mexican masks.
After lunch, we make our way to the nearest metro station (Archives – Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter), where we come upon the Navy Memorial. We don’t even realize what it is at first until we see the metro sign that says “Navy Memorial.” 🙂 According to the website, “the United States Navy Memorial honors the men and women of the United States Navy – past, present and future.”
Finally, we get on the yellow/green line, where we hop the train to L’Enfant Plaza; there we transfer to the Silver line to Reston, where we part ways after a brief but enjoyable meeting.
What a lovely day, and I really enjoyed meeting another of my blogging friends in real life! 🙂