Cover image for Eye of the beholder : masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Eye of the beholder : masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in association with Beacon Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxiii, 240 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N521.I7 I8 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The official companion book to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum's hundredth anniversary celebration During her lifetime (1840-1924) Isabella Stewart Gardner was at the heart of Victorian Boston's liveliest salon. Henry and William James, Henry Adams, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John LaFarge, James McNeill Whistler, Bernard Berenson, and John Singer Sargent all gathered at Fenway Court, in the company of works by Giotto, Fra Angelico, Titian, Raphael, Rubens, and Rembrandt. One hundred years after its completion, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum remains as intrepid and idiosyncratic as its creator. The embodiment of one woman's vision, the Venetian palazzo turned inside out and its wildly eclectic collection of twenty-four centuries of paintings, sculpture, furnishings, and books nonetheless speak very personally to all who enter. At once grand and intimate, the garden courtyard and the terrazzo galleries invite discovery: every visitor (and there have been literally hundreds of thousands), it seems, has a secret corner of the Gardner. In celebration of its centenary, the Gardner Museum has asked artists and thinkers of our own time to go public with their private visions of the Gardner. In this book, filled with 120 color plates, their voices are joined and juxtaposed with those of Mrs. Gardner's contemporaries, allowing readers to see the Gardner's most beloved works through the eyes of such nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinkers as William James and Bill T. Jones, T. S. Eliot and Henry Louis Gates Jr., Julia Ward Howe and Sister Wendy. Robert Campbell takes as his subject the museum's architecture, while Wayne Koestenbaum offers a homoerotic reading of works in the collection. Beautifully designed and extravagantly illustrated, Eye of the Beholder offers a richly textured exploration of one of the world's great art collections.

Author Notes

Alan Chong: Curator of the collection, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Richard Linger: Assistant curator, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Carl Zahn: Retired director of publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and partner, Museum Publishing Partners

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

One hundred years ago, the passionate and wealthy collector Isabella Stewart Gardner established a personal museum in a Venetian-style palace of her own design, bringing to Boston artworks from around the world and across centuries. This volume celebrates the museum's centennial by presenting selections from its 2500 artworks alongside a compilation of short essays and quotes, commissioned for the book or excerpted from previous publications. Quotes attributed to the famous-from Henry James to Henry Louis Gates Jr.-reflect the museum's long history of provoking, inspiring, and befuddling onlookers, while the brief essays by curators and art historians have a pieced-together feel as they touch upon the museum's astounding array of artworks. Though unevenly lit and uncaptioned in the museum's thematic rooms, the artworks here are treasures by any standard: Degas, Rembrandt, and Raphael; first-century Roman sculptures; even older Chinese bronzes; Renaissance textiles; and more. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: A Companion Guide and History (1995) is much more thorough if less generously proportioned. Though this new book will not satisfy the scholar, it succeeds in introducing this unusual collection to general readers. Recommended for large art collections and public libraries, especially in the Northeast.-Carolyn Kuebler, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. VII
Introductionp. IX
Mrs. Gardner's Palace on the Fenwayp. XXI
The Courtyardp. 2
Ancient Artp. 4
Medieval Artp. 17
The Early Renaissancep. 34
The High Renaissancep. 74
The Art of Venicep. 94
Textilesp. 113
Decorative Artsp. 125
The Art of Northern Europep. 131
Spanish Artp. 151
Islamic Artp. 161
Asian Artp. 173
The Nineteenth Centuryp. 189
Coda: Contemporary Artp. 226
Chronologyp. 230
Contributorsp. 231
Sourcesp. 233
Indexp. 238