on February 11, 2007
This is one of the most fabulous small museums I've ever visited. The Kimbell Museum was mandated by the will of Kay Kimbell. His wife Velma decided that the whole Kimbell estate should be used to make the museum a reality. The Kimbell’s collection of mostly 18th and 19th century European paintings became the core of the collection but the philosophy of the museum was that the collection should be first class and added to as time and money allowed. It has grown into an extraordinary collection covering ancient times through the twentieth century.The building itself is quite interesting. It was designed by Louis Kahn and has a wonderful open and airy feeling and is seems as if the building and the art become one . Even the gift shop is open and airy with no walls across the front.We began our visit here by going to the Café and having lunch. It is a wonderful space with a beautiful sculpture in the interior courtyard, food was interesting too.The first thing that greeted us as we left the restaurant was a beautiful little Fra Angelico painting. Next to it is a new acquisition a terracotta relief of the Madonna by Donatello. I particularly enjoyed a terracotta bust of Isabella D’Este by Romano, it is exquisite. I was disappointed to find out that the Cranach was down for conservation, it wouldn’t be normal for us if at least one painting wasn’t down.The whole feeling in this museum is light filled, the ceilings are high and the floor are wood and the dividing walls in the center are not all the way to the ceiling. This adds to the airy feeling.Among the works for us to enjoy were Gerrit Dou’s Dentist by Candlelight which has a great treatment of the effect of light. A stark contrast to Titian’s Madonna and Child with female Saint and St John the Baptist with its vibrant and rich colors. There is a beautiful but dark Rembrandt portrait of a young Jew and an El Greco which is very typically gray. I spent quite a bit of time enjoying Caravaggio’s “The Cardsharps” and Frans Hals “The Rommel Pot Player”. The Frans Hals children are so charming with their rosy cheeks and smiling faces. I wasn’t aware that the Rommel Pot was making a disgusting noise which is why the children are laughing.Each room was even more fantastic than the previous with de La Tour, Rubens, Poussin, Tintoretto and Watteau filling the walls. As always I was entranced by the Elisabeth Viger LeBrun self-portrait. From Spain there were works by Velazquez and Murillo. It’s not all paintings either, there are sculptures by Bernini.It doesn’t end there, there are some magnificent Impressionist works by Monet, Sisley, and Cezanne, to just mention a few. Allow about an hour for the European collection, and if your interest includes Asian Art, there is also a very fine collection in the East Gallery.
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