Excursion Washington DC - Fairfax, VA - Oct 1st, 2015
My plan to cycle on to the Virginia coast is off for the next few days! Although Hurrican "Joaquin" was probably not going to hit the coast directly it did bring along a huge amount of rain- see maps below. So I informed my warmshowers hosts for Friday evening (100 km in the rain was definitely not appealing!) and decided to wait for dryer times.
I took the metro to Washington DC, instead, accompanied by Tove, my friend Omar's wife. We walked from Smithsonian Station to the National Gallery of Art where we spent some hours. Similarly to my visit to the Art Gallery in Cleveland I had a good look at the American Landscape collection and enjoyed paintings by Bierstadt, Turner and Cole and all the others who had their part in mystifying and popularising the American West through their paintings.
After a stroll along Constitution Avenue past many government buildings down to the White House in the pouring rain we finally got to that point in the gate from where you could see the White House best. We lined up with a million Chinese, Indian and European tourists just like us and awaited our turn to take the pictures. "Ladies and gentlemen", we heard, "please move back to the entrance, your time is up!" We hadn't even noticed that we had obviously walked into a group with a certain time allotment! So we quickly took our two pictures - none of which were particuarly good (see below!) because we were rushed out while we were taking them - just too bad. On the other hand it was really raining, so I doubt we could have taken any better ones given more time.
When we passed the Washington Monument Tuva reminded me that we had tickets to go up for Oct 13th - so we would hope for better weather then.
"Sunrise in the Catskills", 1826, by Thomas Cole
Another painting by Thomas Cole
A reproduction of this painting called "The Jolley Flatboatmen" by George Caleb Bingham hung in my living room for many years ...
This "Cottage Scenery" (1845) by Bingham has an interesting background. Cottage Scenery is one of four paintings by George Caleb Bingham accepted for display at the 1845 exhibition of the American Art-Union, a pioneering organization in the promotion of contemporary American art. Bingham’s first submissions to the Art-Union, these works also were among his earliest forays into the western subject matter that would preoccupy him for more than a decade; the group also included the iconic river picture Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (1845, Metropolitan Museum of Art). The bucolic scene of farmers before their cottage—sheltered by leafy trees and overlooking pasturing cows, a lake or river, and distant hills—resembles the rustic settlements the artist knew as a youth in rural Missouri. In composing the work, Bingham seems to have taken to heart a statement in the Art-Union’s 1844 annual report. Encouraging American artists to create landscape paintings in order to satisfy the organization’s largely urban membership, the document stated that “those who cannot afford a seat in the country . . . may at least have a country seat in the parlors; a bit of landscape with a green tree, a distant hill, or low-roofed cottage.” A largely self-taught painter who began his career as a portraitist, Bingham here blends landscape and genre, and as such hints at a transition occurring in his career. The trio of figures in conversation enlivening the picturesque view suggests his growing interest in genre scenes, developed as a result of his contemporary William Sidney Mount’s success in that arena. Like his masterpieces The Jolly Flatboatmen and Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, Cottage Scenery was purchased by the Art-Union directly from Bingham. Through a lottery, the progressive organization guaranteed its members a chance to win one of the original paintings featured in its annual exhibition. It also popularized those paintings by distributing thousands of prints of them to its members across the country. John D. Carhart of Macon, Georgia, was the recipient of this canvas, which remained in his family for more than 100 years. (source: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.166430.html)
... at least here I got to see the Niagara Falls! Frederic Edwin Church "Niagara", 1857
A funny picture: "Hound and Hunter", 1892, Winslow Homer
Taken in a hurry; "Come on, let's move"! the official called.