Detail of a portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner by John Singer Sargent, 1888
Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924) assembled an extraordinary collection of art from diverse cultures and eras—and built a Venetian-style palazzo in Boston to share these exquisite treasures with the world. But her life and work remains shrouded in myth.
Gardner is the subject of two new books. In Isabella Stewart Gardner: A Life, authors Nathaniel Silver and Diana Seave Greenwald shed new light on Gardner’s connections to minority communities in Boston, her views on suffrage and other issues of the day, the sources of her and her husband’s wealth, and her ties to politicians, writers, and artists. What emerges is a multifaceted portrait of a trailblazing collector and patron of the arts—from Italian Renaissance paintings to Chinese antiquities—who built a museum unprecedented in its curatorial vision.
In 1865, Gardner lost her only child to pneumonia at less than two years old. In an effort to rouse her from depression, Gardner and her husband Jack traveled to northern Europe and Russia. It was the first of many trips abroad that would eventually take her from the Middle East to Asia—journeys that she documented in exquisitely crafted collaged travel albums.
Fellow Wanderer: Isabella Stewart Gardner's Travel Albums, co-edited by Greenwald, brings together nearly 30 of Gardner’s striking travelogues, spanning some 39 countries and offering an invaluable perspective on the global influences on this legendary collector and patron of the arts.
Join Greenwald, William and Lia Poorvu Curator of the Collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, as she offers a portrait of a unique collector, drawing on Gardner’s substantial personal archive and previously unpublished findings to offer new perspectives on her life and her construction of identity.
Copies of Isabella Stewart Gardner: A Life and Fellow Wanderer: Isabella Stewart Gardner's Travel Albums (Princeton University Press) are available for purchase.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*
Book Sale Information
*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.