The Grand Tour in Venice - Page 58

Mrs Gardner grows on m e from mom ent to mom ent...
sh e lives at a rate and intensity, and with a reality
that makes oth er lives seem pale, thin and shadowy...
We have been hunting th e antiquaries sh ops and
picking up at ridiculous prices fascinating odds and
ends, as a small Cossa, a fine Bramantino, an early
Liberale, a Giambono, and a gorgeous drawing by
Ru bens after Mantegna’s HC (Hampton Court) cartoons 
In 1906 Mrs Gardner paid her last visit to
Venice, though she was to continue to collect
works of art associated with Venice by artists
like Whistler and Sargent to fill her Venetian
Of course I went to Palazzo
Barbaro and regretted th e days
of yore. How wonderful it was
wh en I stayed th ere with you
som e 25 years ago...
Fig. 31 Courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.
The art collections in Boston were mainly
formed with the advice of another visitor
to the Palazzo Barbaro, Bernard Berenson
(fig. 32), through whom she acquired from
Colnaghi in 1896 that great Venetian
masterpiece, Titian’s Rape of Europa and
with whom she conducted a life-long
palazzo in Boston. In 1923 Berenson
revisited Palazzo Barbaro and wrote her a
nostalgic letter:  
correspondence. One of Berenson’s earliest
letters to her was written from Venice where
he was on a study trip sponsored by the
Gardners and he later accompanied her on
trips rummaging through Venetian antique
shops as he described in a letter to his future
wife in 1897:  
I shall never get over
that fortnigh t...
it was wonderful, and if I
ever sigh for anything, it is
for th ose days.
Fig. 32 Bernard Berenson in a Gondola,
Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.


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