Roger Merritt's Home Page
Art may be subjective to a lot of people,
but I typically
find the classics to be very satisfying to look at. I'm only going to mention paintings here,
such as Gothic, Renaissance, Romanticism and Impressionism of Western European origin. While
in London and on several trips to the continent, one of my favorite hobbies was visiting art
museums, and learning about the finest paintings, and artists. Here is a list of the major
art museums that I visited:
The National Gallery, London - The best collection in the world in my opinion;
well rounded with English, Dutch, French, Spanish and Italian paintings. Some of the most
famous examples of Impressionism are here. I've been to the NG more times than I can possibly
remember. Admission is free, and such a good haven on a cold, wet day in London. Personal
note: I once saw Whoopi Goldberg there, in 1988, before she was a mega celebrity. I casually
walked through a room admiring the paintings and she was doing the same. I kept glancing at
her, trying not to let her know I was looking at her, of course. It was like this for about
three or four minutes, and then when we came to the entrance of another room, some American
woman recognized her and started talking to her. So, I moved on and continued my wanderings.
Located at Trafalgar Square, London's geographic center.
The National Portrait Gallery, London - The collection is like a lesson on famous
characters in British history, also free. It contains countless portraits by the Masters of
European art, and is surely one of the best of its kind in the world. I especially like the
Holbein examples. I've been there many times, and always went away inspired to learn more about
British history. Located right behind the National Gallery at
Trafalgar Square. www.npg.org.uk
The Tate Gallery, London - Not as convenient to get to as the National Gallery and
Portrait Gallery, but very significant, as art galleries go. Has several of Turner's finest
paintings, and a lot of other English paintings, including portraits by Sargent. Admission is
free also. I've been there a few times. www.tate.org.uk
The Queen's Gallery, London - At Buckingham Palace. Pretty good, but only a small portion
of the vast collection is usually on exhibit. Primarily royal subjects. Admission charge.
The Queen's Gallery
The Courtauld Institute, London - At Somerset House on the Strand. One of the finest
collections of Impressionism anywhere. A terrific find! Numerous Monet's, Manet's, Renoir's,
Pissarro's, Cezanne's, Degas', Van Gogh's, etc. Admission charge.
The Wallace Collection, London - Not as well-known, but very rich in content. Includes
Frans Hal's Laughing Cavalier, and some good Canaletto's. I've been there at least twice.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London - Has some good British painters represented,
notably John Constable. And it has a couple of large rooms of sculpture, mostly copied versions
of the great Roman Empire and Italian Renaissance sculpture, such as Michelangelo.
I've been there a few times. www.vam.ac.uk
Dulwich Gallery, London - Located in an older, well-to-do suburb of South
London, it holds the distinction of being England's first public art gallery (est. 1811).
A pretty good collection of portraits and still life's; there's at least one Rembrandt, a
Rubens, and some Gainsborough's, but not any of their more famous ones. When I visited the
gallery it was a bit dark and forlorn, but it was remodeled in 2002, and looks stunning!
The Louvre Museum, Paris - Best known for the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo
and the Victory of Samothrace, the Lourve is easily one of the top museums in the world.
Its Egyptian and Roman Antiquities, Renaissance and Middle Ages collections, and various
schools of paintings are superb, particularly its Napoleonic and French Revolution era paintings.
Plus, it has some of the most famous examples of early Impressionism. A well-rounded collection;
also very big on sculpture. I've been there twice, and it takes a lot of time to see. Admission
Musee d'Orsay, Paris - Located in a renovated train station. What the Louvre lacks in
Impressionism, the d'Orsay makes up for it. It contains art from roughly the years 1848-1914,
and includes a variety of art objects, best known for, though not exclusively, Impressionism.
I've been there once, and felt that it was much more accessible than the Louvre. Admission
The Royal Museum of Fine Art, Brussels - Some excellent Flemish, French and Dutch
paintings, such as Bosch and Bruegel, plus David's The Death of Marat. I was in a hurry,
so I don't remember a whole lot. www.fine-arts-museum.be
The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam - Best known for Rembrandt's Night Watch, and other
Dutch paintings from Holland's Golden Age. I love the Dutch school of paintings very much. I was
disappointed to find that all the Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634) paintings were on-loan somewhere
else. He was known for his idealized winter scenes of people at play, i.e. ice skating, and the
like. My visit to the Rijksmuseum was too brief, however, to see it properly.
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam - Opened in 1895, and is primarily modern art from Dutch
Expressionism to Minimalism and sculpture. Some fine lesser known works from Monet to Chagall.
Undergoing much renovation in the early 2000's. www.stedelijk.nl
Gemaldegalerie, Berlin - A well-rounded European collection with fine examples of all the
major schools of art from the early Renaissance to the 19th Century. This used to be located in
(not-easy-to-find) Dahlem-Dorf in SW Berlin, but worth the effort to get there. I spent the
better part of a day there admiring the collection of paintings during late December 1993.
Note: this collection was moved to a new museum at the Kulturforum in Central Berlin near
Potsdamer Platz in 1998. Update: I went to the gallery in July 2004, and its new,
impressively spacious building was very appropriate for this fine collection. I went again in July 2012.
The New National Gallery, Berlin - Contains examples of classic modern art from cubism,
expressionism, the Bauhaus and surrealism. While it may not be my favorite kind of art, it does
grow on you the more you study it. www.smb.spk-berlin.de
The Old National Gallery, Berlin - It was musty, but impressive, and right in the middle
of Central Berlin, located in Museum Island. It was similar to the Gemaldegalerie, but with more
German artists, and numerous impressionistic paintings of high quality. Note: this museum has
been renovated since about 2000. I went again in 2012. www.smb.spk-berlin.de
Kunsthistorisches Museum - Museum of Fine Art, Vienna - Rather impressive, to put it
lightly. Chocked full of European Masters; including some famous Bruegel's (I love Pieter Bruegel's
work) and Austrian painters, housed in a magnificent baroque edifice. Treasures of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire. www.khm.at
Van Gogh Museum - Amsterdam - Contains many pantings by Van Gogh himself, from early works to the end of his short,
illustrious life. Also, some other paintings by artists who were influential to Van Gogh or people he left a mark on. From the Potato Eaters, to
the Sunflowers, the Yellow House, and his Bedroom in Arles. This is the best of Van Gogh.
The Vatican Museum, including the Sistine Chapel, Rome - Almost too much to digest. The
Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo's masterpiece, and that is what I wanted to see the most. It was
everything I expected and more. It was molto bello!
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN - I've been there several times, to see exhibits, such as From
El Greco to Picasso Exhibit on temporary loan from the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.
in early 2004. The best part was Renoir's The Luncheon of the Boating Party and the three
van Gogh's in my opinion. A wonderful exhibit overall. Admission charge. www.fristcenter.org
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA - We went there to see the current exhibits, and the permanent collection, which was fairly strong
in African, American, European and Asian art. There were some less well known examples of paintings by several famous painters, from Sargent, Homer, Monet,
Renoir, and Pissarro. Including sculpture by Rodin, and Remington. Admission charge. www.high.org.
Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN - This is a surprisingly good museum, covering all the major aspects
and styles of American Art, from the early pioneers to modern, mostly with paintings, though there are many realistic and
abstract scuptures. The museum's three distinct styles of architecture set on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River
combine for one of the most visually attractive settings I've ever seen. The day I went, the Grandma Moses: Grandmother
to the Nation exhibit was there, and it was excellent (Summer 2007). Admission charge.
The National Gallery, Washington D.C. - This is certainly one of the best art collections
in the USA, and I would say it compares well with the better collections in Europe.
It has a good sampling of Classical, Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, Impressionistic, and
American paintings. It contains the only De Vinci painting in this country. The Gallery itself
is impressively built. I have been to the main collection four times, but I have not been
inside of the modern art section in the East Wing. Free admission. www.nga.gov
National Museum of American Art, Washington D.C. - Some very nice examples of American
painters like Cassatt, Homer and Sargent. The western landscapes are particularly good.
National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C. - This is the premier collection for portraits of important
individuals of American history. The Hall of Presidents is excellent, and much more, ranging
from Arthur Ashe to Pocahontas. The building contains both the National Museum of American Art
and the National Portrait Gallery. Free admission.
Philadelphia Museum of Art - One of the most impressive art museums in the country. Very
strong in Impressionism, and European paintings. This museum, more than any other I have seen,
uses furniture and reconstructed interiors from palaces, manor houses, monasteries, temples,
etc., to set a scene for its paintings and art objects. Admission charge.
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD - I went there strictly to see an exhibit from
Denmark, called The Age of Impressionism, which was an overview of Impressionism's rise in
popularity, and was all from one collection originally bought by one art collector from
Copenhagen. The museum has a fine variety of art on display that belongs to the Walters family.
Admission charge. www.thewalters.org