Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beauties of the Barnes, Part III

In displaying his objects in each room and on the walls, Albert Barnes sought to make a harmonious "meta" composition. Illustrated below are sample groups of artworks that Barnes recombined and arranged into his own artistic tableaux, including African statues, Old Master paintings, and paintings that when he bought them were more or less avant-garde. Below: Seated Couple, Dogon people, Mali; Face Mask (Mblo), Yaure people, Côte d'Ivoire; Portrait Mask, Baule peoples, Côte d'Ivoire.
Barnes' Old Master paintings include works attributed to Tintoretto ("Two Apostles"), Gherardo Starnina ("Head of an Angel"), Rubens ("King David"), and Bonifazio de' Pitati ("Two Prophets")
The glory of Barnes' collection of more than 800 paintings were his works by French artists, and here is a sampling of some of my favorites. Below: "Dancers With Braids" and "Bathers" by Degas; "Tarring the Boat" by Manet.

 "Mr. Loulou" (Louis Le Ray) by Gauguin
"Rosa" by Toulouse-Lautrec
This massive painting by Seurat hangs over Cezanne's "The Card Players" in the Museum's main salon. Called "Models Posing," it depicts a portion of another famous painting, "La Grande Jatte," at the Chicago Art Institute.
Both Monet's "The Studio Boat" and Matisse's "Woman Reading" are so wonderfully tranquil.
One of Barnes' meticulously arranged compositions.
Capping off our series on the Barnes is Matisse's large and abundantly colorful "The Joy of Life"

Images © 2012 The Barnes Foundation


  1. I know you loved the Barnes collection, but let's not pretend Mr. Barnes was an angel--he was a misogynist, an anti-Semite, and a ruthless manipulator of acquaintances. He delighted in humiliating those he felt were not good enough to visit his collections. Sometimes it makes it hard to enjoy his purchases, knowing what he was like...

  2. I see your point.... Rather like trying to enjoy Picasso (difficult for me)--also a misogynist; don't know if he was an anti-Semite. Didn't know either of those things about Mr. B, but certainly am well aware of the unsavory aspects of his personality.

  3. I rather think it makes enjoying his collection more piquant. He would likely have disapproved of me. (I don't aim to please, ever). But I can praise or criticize his tastes, as a cat may look at a Queen.
    Besides, the angel who gets rich enough to afford a large collection is truly rare.

  4. "Rosa" is the same girl as "The Laundress", another of T-L's works. Is her face averted to express the anonymity of servants?
    Well, she stands out for it.