Chasing Beauty: The Life of Isabella Stewart Gardner

Chasing Beauty: The Life of Isabella Stewart Gardner

Natalie Dykstra


Creator of the eponymous art museum in Boston (and scene of the most notorious – and unsolved – art thefts in history), Gardner was an ambitious and innovative American original, a complex and singular woman of grit and self-invention whose own life was remade through art. Born in 1840 to a privileged New York family, Isabella Stewart married Boston dignitary Jack Gardner. Misunderstood by the city’s insular society, she went on to form both glittering and bohemian friendships, embark on world travels and collect beautiful things with a keen eye. The museum she founded in an Italianate palazzo holds masterwork paintings, tapestries, rare books, prints, porcelains and furniture, all displayed according to Gardner’s wishes in the exact placements she initially curated. Chasing Beauty can be seen as a kind of personal memoir created with objects instead of words.

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