Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Phillips Collection

Let's slip back to Washington, DC, for a moment to have a quick tour through the wonderful private collection of Duncan and Marjorie Phillips, in a Georgian Revival house on Q Street near Dupont Circle. It's one of John and my top five museums in Washington!
This private museum houses one of the finest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in North America. Duncan Phillips was an avid collector of  the work of Pierre Bonnard. Above, we see Bonnard's Woman with a Dog (1922) and The Palm (1926). We think of Mr Phillips buying still-wet Bonnards directly off the easel.
Probably the most famous painting in the Phillips collection is Pierre Auguste Renoir's stunning Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-1881).
John loves this beautiful Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Civita Castellena, (1826-27)
and, as usual, went in for a detail.
The Phillips were also excited by Modern American painters and the foundation continues to add to their collection in the addition to the original home. This beautiful Morris Louis, Seal (1959), is a recent acquisition.
When we visited in October, it was being showcased in a room with other examples of Louis' stained canvases like Number 1-82, (1961), above.
Duncan Phillips was also a huge fan of the work of Mark Rothko and in 1960 with the artist's collaboration created a "chapel" of 4 of Rothko's Abstract Expressionist canvases. It's one of our favourite rooms in the museum.
John wanted to capture the amazing quality of viewing the canvases in the chapel up close.
One simply dissolves into the gorgeous colours.
Even stairwells look like art after an hour in the Phillips.
How can we leave the Phillips without gazing in wonder at the works of Paul Cézanne, the painter who inspired the great innovators of Modern painting. Here's Fields at Bellevue, (1892-95).
John zoomed in for a delightful detail.
Or how about his contemporary-looking, The Gardens at Les Lauves, (circa 1906)! The details show how Cézanne continues to influence new artists.
Amazing, isn't it? Such inspiring brush strokes!
Is it any wonder that we never fail to visit the Phillips Collection when we're in Washington? Put it in red on your itinerary!

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