Although I didn't get to take my own photographs, as I had intended on this trip, I thought I'd show you a few of the reasons I love returning and returning to the Art Institute of Chicago. To start the tour:
My longest readers have seem this painting before. This is The Enchanted Mill by Franz Marc. I love his color pallet, I love his figures, I love the juxtapositions of movement and stillness. I love this painting. Next:
St George killing the Dragon by Bernardo Martorell. This work is nostalgic more than anything. The second time I took Hannah to the museum she spent the first couple of hours just - looking for something. Finally she stops in front of this painting and lets out a rather explosive breath. "There it is!" she exclaims. "I've been looking for The Dragon all day!" She didn't remember enough about the painting to be able to ask about it, but the image had stuck with her. Now, every visit MUST include a visit with St. George and the Dragon.
The Cloisters, San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura by C.W. Eckersburg. This painting always sneaks up on me. I forget about it until suddenly come face-to-face with it in the gallery. It is pretty small, really only about 23x31, so it's hidden in a corner by a doorway. I love it because it reminds me of the cloisters at San Markos I visited in Italy, except these cloisters are inhabited correctly by the contemplative monks whereas san Markos was peopled by frowzy, dehydrated, overwhelmed tourists - including myself. I love the shading in the crossed over ceilings here, and the sunlight pouring in from the right that up lights the rest of the scene. Mostly I love the peace - the sense of firmness, timelessness, and grace that inhabits the entire work.
Mme. de Pastorette and her son by Jacques Louis David ( remember to pronounce it daVEED even when you read it to yourself, thank you!) I like this one because it has a great story, and it is the only David portrait I get to see on a regular basis. David's Mme. Julie Recamier is my absolute favorite, but she is in the Louvre. Mme. de Pastorette is unfinished because her husband starting talking politics with the painter and found out they were on different sides of the french revolution, so the sittings were discontinued. The baby in the crib grew up and eventually purchased the unfinished work from the artist.
It really is a world-class collection that everyone ought to look at - at least once. They even have audio guides for those who aren't sure how to look at this stuff by yourself.