I quickly developed a museum version nystagmus. What should I look at? Madonna by Giotto, or perhaps Botticelli’s “Adoration of Magi”. And no, probably it is better to stop for a moment at Madonna or Saint George by Rafael or the portrait of Ginevra de ‘Benci by da Vinci. Or should I rather stop to compare Christ at the lake of Galilee by Tintoretto with Christ Cleansing the
Temple by El Greco. Should I look at portraits by Rembrandt (including the “Polish nobleman”) or maybe van Dyck (including Rubens’s wife). Or maybe at Daniel, by Rubens himself.
I will definitely stop for a moment to admire the Vermeer’s mastery of light, but I can also take a look at Goya’s paintings. And then there come my favorite impressionists. Of course, here are two pieces of the Rouen cathedral by Monet, but also the entire Renoir hall (with an amazing Odalisque), Degas and Cezanne. And then van Gogh, Gaugin and Rousseau. As you see, I probably paradoxically came to the States to admire European painting. It impresses me that the resources of the National Gallery of Art in Washington would be enough to equip with paintings a dozen of decent European museums. Even when reading descriptions of works (sometimes not bad) of American artists, I often read what they were inspired by European art and when they visited Europe.
And yet this is only the first of the great museums at The Mall. The more crowded National Museum of Natural History is waiting for me with its characteristic African elephant set above the information desk, dinosaurs, a giant collection of minerals including the great blue Hope Diamond and the insect zoo for dessert.