What was so scandalous about the 19th century art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner? “Immortalized by Henry James in print and by John Singer Sargent on canvas, Isabella Stewart Gardner has remained an elusive original whose independent life and work shocked the Boston aristocracy she married into,” writes Douglass Shand-Tucci in his captivating biography of the famed “Mrs. Jack,” The Art of Scandal.
Adds the celebrated museum that bears her name, “The local press was both fascinated and scandalized by her,” not just by Gardner’s flouting of social conventions, but also the audacity of building a 15th century Venetian-style palazzo in Boston to house “one of the most remarkable and intimate collections of art in the world today” - and one open to the public! “Isabella Gardner installed her collection of works in a way to evoke intimate responses to the art, mixing paintings, furniture, textiles, and objects from different cultures and periods among well-known European paintings and sculpture,” and therein lies her true genius. With The Art of Scandal, Childs Gallery projects Gardner’s life and spirit onto today’s art world, daring to imagine what she might collect were she still alive today. The exhibition features paintings, photographs, and prints by contemporary artists Abelardo Morell, Erik Desmazières, Raphaël Jaimes-Branger, Michael Bergt, Alex Katz, Adam Van Doren, and Anthony Moore, among others. Gardner’s love of religious and classical imagery, Venice, Asian exoticism, and technical bravura is apparent throughout, with many works inspired by Gardner’s own collection, including paintings by Sargent, Whistler, and the masters of the Italian Renaissance.
Childs’ exhibition marks the publication of the new and expanded edition of Douglass Shand-Tucci’s biography, The Art of Scandal: The Life and Times of Isabella Stewart Gardner. The author will be signing books at our exhibit opening on March 16th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. The public is welcome.