The series of photographs above illustrate the Weekend Exhibition of my 17th century Dutch Canal House at the National Gallery of Art (NGA):
This was a "Family Weekend" meant to show viewers how people lived in 17th century Holland. To help the public create their own cityscape, the museum had large hand stamps made in the form of Dutch canal houses. The museum supplied stamp pads, colored pencils and matted paper for the artists, young and old, to ply their art. A photo of my dolls house was sent to the stamp maker and the design was copied. I was given a set of these hand stamps at the end of the weekend.
The museum is a classical structure which is the largest marble building in the world (so I read) built in 1941 by Andrew Mellon. He donated his art collection and asked his friends to do the same. I loved the fact that there is no entry fee and photography of the artwork is allowed. I took many pictures of my favorite paintings.
Thursday after arrival in Washington, I went to Exquisite Fabrics at the Shoppes at Georgetown Park to look for material for my current project, an 18th century Dutch Cabinet House. This is similar to the cabinet houses found at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. In this case, 17th c. Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens will be the resident. I found some perfect fabrics and ribbons which were older, finer goods than I have seen elsewhere. Then off I went to Second Story Books near Dupont Circle and found a very interesting book from an exhibit at Rubens own house in Antwerp, Belgium showing the actual art Rubens lived with in his time.
Bright and early on Friday morning, I met with my contacts at the Security entrance of the museum and was taken through the storage areas to where the dolls house was still partially crated. We brought it up to the "Founders Room," a beautifully panelled space, and set it in front of the 12 foot high window. It looked perfect with the sun shining in on the mellow orangey-red bricks of the house.
After setting up the dolls house, staffers took me to lunch and we toured the permanent Dutch collection and the special exhibit “Pride of Place: Dutch Cityscapes of the Golden Age.” One of the women was a Dutch art expert and fascinated me with her narrative.
On Saturday morning, Laurie Sisson and a group of miniaturists were crowded around the house before I arrived. It was quite a thrill to find them there. The ladies were from the online group, The CAMP, and three miniature groups in the Virginia and Maryland areas. They brought their copies of old Miniature Collector magazines with articles on my collection and had me autograph them. I felt like a celebrity! Photos were taken all around.
Afterwards, family members that I hadn't seen in years came to share this experience and I enjoyed that immensely. We had dinner on a terrace overlooking the Potomac River and saw a heartbreakingly beautiful sunset as we dined.
Sunday morning a very nice woman that I met on the flight to Washington came by with her granddaughter and son. Then a new internet friend came on the train from New York. She collects full size 17th century Dutch and 18th century English furniture, as well as very fine Dutch miniatures. She seems to be my biggest fan and kept telling me how marvelous the dolls house is.
We were lucky enough to be introduced to Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., the Curator of Northern Baroque Paintings and he took us over to a famous Rembrandt painting, "The Mill," and explained the significance of the painting (the arms of the windmill reaching up to God) as well as the complete color change after all the centuries old varnish was removed. I loved meeting him in person as I had once seen him on a panel discussion at the Pieter de Hooch exhibit at the Wadsworth Athaeneum in Hartford, Connecticut in 1999 and have some of his books. I showed him my miniature Rembrandt painting and he said now I had to paint something from the collection of the National Gallery of Art, and I will start working on one. Meeting him was indeed a highlight of the weekend for me!
This has been a once in a lifetime honor and I am thrilled to be able to share my work with the public.