Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Nature…Then Fine Art!

This was a busy day!  First we had breakfast with David II, David III and Emmett Lee.  Then we perused the exhibits at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History… When we finished that, David II suggested that we might be interested in touring the nearby Cleveland Museum of Art.  It was just across University Circle from the Natural History museum…

(Amy had to work…and unfortunately she missed a great day out with her ‘boys’ and their terrific grandparents!)  

The Cleveland Museum of Art houses a broad based permanent collection of more than 43,000 works of art from around the world.  The museum has remained historically true to the vision of its founders…keeping general admission free to the public.  We appreciate it too!  With its $600 million endowment The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the wealthiest art museums in the nation.

David II, Laurie and Emmett Lee…just being himself…are pictured in the central atrium of the Art Museum.
The museum was founded as a trust in 1913 with an endowment from prominent Cleveland industrialists Hinman Hurlbut, John Huntington and Horace Kelley.  The facility has been expanded several times with the most recent efforts being completed in 2010.  The original building has been tied together with the new east and west wings via the huge enclosed atrium courtyard which is under a soaring glass canopy.   The Cleveland Museum of Arts’ total floor space is now 592,000 square feet! 
Hinman Hurlbut was prominent in both banking and the railroad industry. For more information, go to  John Huntington made his fortune in oil and shipping.  Check him out at  Horace Kelley made his money in real estate.  For more information, go to
Now…on to a sampling of the exhibits!

This is a ceramic mosaic Muslim prayer niche or mihrab that dates back to the early 1600’s.  These niches are the focal point in the interior of a mosque.  This particular mihrab is roughly 114 inches high, (9.5 feet), by 97” wide. (8.1 feet) The white glaze presents the most important verses from the Qur’an. 

By contrast, this is a stained glass window designed and built by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company ca. 1900.  This beautiful window was originally installed in the Hind’s House in Cleveland.  It is 89 inches high, (7.4 feet), by 45 inches wide. (3.75 feet) Laurie and I love Tiffany glass!  For more on Tiffany glass, you can go to  If you’d like to learn more about Louis Comfort Tiffany, just click on the following link:

This painting, (oil on canvas), is entitled ‘A Woman's Work’.  It was completed in 1912 by John Sloan.  He explored social issues more vigorously than most of the painters of his time, portraying working-class urbanites engaged in ordinary activities. He observed this particular scene through a rear window of his Manhattan apartment. Perched on a narrow fire escape, a woman hangs fresh laundry to dry on clotheslines strung between tenements. The labors of American women at the turn of the 1900s were most often confined to the domestic realm.
For more about John Sloan, go to

This oil on canvas was painted by Frederic Edwin Church in 1860, just before the Civil War.  It’s entitled ‘Twilight in the Wilderness”.  Church sketched this spectacular view of a blazing sunset over wilderness near Mount Katahdin in Maine, seen during a visit two years before he actually painted the picture.  The painting was completed in his studio in New York City.  Church often extolled the grandeur of pristine American landscape in his work.  His considerable technical skills and clever showmanship contributed to his fame as the premier artist of his generation.  Church was a central figure in the Hudson River School of American landscape painters.  For much more about Frederic Church, just go to

Given current events with the forest fires in California, this painting is very relevant because of the ongoing risk to one of our national treasures.  This oil painting on canvas mounted on a panel-back stretcher is entitled ‘Yosemite Valley’ and it was painted in 1866 by Albert Bierstadt.

 During the summer of 1863, Bierstadt visited Yosemite Valley in California and made numerous sketches. Back in his New York studio, he used them to produce many majestic paintings, including this view of Half Dome, one of Yosemite's most distinctive features. Such scenes thrilled East Coast audiences and helped encourage early movements to save America's natural wonders. In 1864, President Lincoln signed a bill creating the ‘Yosemite Grant’.  This is the first instance of park land being set aside specifically for preservation and public use by action of the U.S. federal government, and it set a precedent for the 1872 creation of Yellowstone as the first national park.  Yosemite became a national park in 1890.
For more about Albert Bierstadt, go to

The Cleveland Museum of Art has a very large and impressive collection of Medieval Art…ranging from coins, book illustrations, and paintings through tapestry, weapons and armor. This armored rider and horse is positioned in the center of a large gallery.  The armor is from Northern Italy ca. 1575.
A knight depended on his horse both as a weapon and a means of defense. He had to take great care to protect his charger. From the 1100s on, knights first covered their steeds in trappings of fabric and later of mail. By around 1400, full steel plate armor for horses was complete.  The total combined weight of both the man's and horse's armor is 114 pounds. The etched decoration of this armor is of a type that became fashionable in northern Italy during the late 1500s.

Another example of decorative arts can be found in furniture.  This William and Mary style Highboy was built in Massachusetts ca. 1700-1720.  It was constructed from burled maple veneer and it has walnut herringbone bandings.
One of the most notable developments in American furniture around 1700 was the introduction of "highboys"…tall chests of drawers on high stands. These chests, often with bases having elaborately turned legs connected by a framework of stretchers, closely resemble English examples of the late 1600s during the reign of William and Mary.  The decoration consists almost entirely of thin layers, or veneers, of richly patterned wood. These veneers were cut from burls, (tumor like growths on trees), and then carefully assembled and glued to create symmetrical patterns like those seen on the front of this highboy. The brass pulls on the drawers are typical of this period and may be original.

This is the central atrium at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  It is a huge space that ties the new portion of the museum with the original structure!  Even the indoor gardens are works of art… In addition, two sculptures are also displayed…The Age of Bronze by Auguste Rodin (1875 – 1876) and a Hindu image of Ganesha…a popular elephant deity that came from Cambodia. (600 – 800 AD)

This oil painting on fabric by Pierre Auguste Renoir was completed ca. 1890.  The museum has quite a few works by Renoir in their collection.  This painting shows a young country girl offering apples to Renoir's wife, Aline.  The boy in the straw hat may be the artist's nephew, Edmond, but the young girl with the ribbon in her hair has not been identified. The picture was probably completed at Essoyes, in eastern France.
Pierre Auguste Renoir is certainly one of the best known artists and many of his offspring were very creative as well.  For a brief history of this artist and his many famous works of art, just go to

This oil on fabric painting is entitled ‘The Large Plane Trees (Road Menders at Saint-Rémy)’, and it was painted in 1889 by Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. 
In May 1889, Van Gogh voluntarily committed himself to an asylum near the small town of Saint-Rémy in Provence.  His doctors soon gave him permission to paint on day excursions to surrounding fields. While walking through Saint-Rémy that November, he was impressed by the sight of men repairing a road beneath immense plane trees. "In spite of the cold," he wrote to his brother, "I have gone on working outside till now, and I think it is doing me good and the work too."
Of course, van Gogh is also one of the artists best known to the public… To learn more about him, go to

This oil on canvas painting entitled “The Harem” was completed by Pablo Picasso in 1906.  This was one of Picasso’s most important paintings from his ‘Rose Period’, (1904-6).  He completed it while in the remote village of Gósol in the Spanish Pyrenees. He based the composition on sketches of his lover, Fernande Olivier, as she combed her hair and bathed.  He was also inspired by J. A. D. Ingres's ‘The Turkish Bath’ that is in the collection of The Louvre in Paris.  Picasso placed Fernande in the context of a harem…
For more on Pablo Picasso and his very interesting and Bohemian lifestyle, you can go to

One last example from the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art… This is a Native North American Ceremonial Garment/Chilkat Blanket from the late 1800s.  This Tlingit artifact is from the Northwest coast of North America. (Weft twining with cedar bark wrapped with mountain goat hair) Chilkat weaving is a traditional form of weaving practiced by Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and other Northwest Coast peoples of Alaska and British Columbia.  Chilkat blankets are worn by high-ranking tribal members on civic or ceremonial occasions, including dances.
For more on this form of weaving, just go to

One final photo… Laurie took this picture of David II, David III, Emmett Lee and me as we headed down the escalator at the Art Museum.  Only David III noticed that she was taking the photo...
We really enjoyed our visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art!  The collection is varied and well presented.  The lighting is excellent.  We would recommend a visit to this museum should you find yourself in the Cleveland area.  The Cleveland Museum of Art is open daily.  It’s located at 11150 East Boulevard in Cleveland Ohio.  Phone: 216-421-7350.  Website:
Just click on any of the photos if you’d like to enlarge them…
Thanks for exploring this extensive art collection with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave
(Sorry about this gap...Can't figure out how to fix it!)



  1. Looks like a fine day out with the your boys.

  2. really beauty and interesting pictures David, the kids are cute!!
    and... what you lunch?? LOL
    I love when you go to restaurants:)