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June 7, 2010 / howardmestas




Man’s Best Friend



You always hear about The Metropolitan Museum of Art, especially when you read the photo credits of books and magazines about American History; but you still get overwhelmed when you see it in person.  Our tour guide was a very gracious and knowledgeable person; however, I’m sad to say she spent too much time explaining the obvious to veteran U.S. History teachers.  Our tour was of the American Collection with the beginning parts focusing on architecture and housing as it progressed through the 17th and 18th Centuries.  It was amazing to see a Frank Lloyd Wright building in the museum!  Our guide showed us some early portraits of His Excellency George Washington and later we saw a very famous portrait of John Brown as he was leaving for the gallows.  I was very pleased to see the John Brown painting as I have seen it in every text book I have ever used, plus I watched a documentary about it on TV.  Equally I was very disappointed that the famous portrait of Washington Crossing the Delaware was only recently removed from the museum.  I had been waiting to see this painting in person ever since we were at Washington’s Crossing National Park two years ago.  It was like being told by your parents that there was no Santa the night before Christmas.      

When we were finally on our own my first (and predetermined) choice was the Lehman Collection where I knew I would find some famous American landscape portraits.  I love to see how beautiful wilderness of this country was before Europeans conquered the rivers and cut down the forests.  I was not disappointed and was thrilled when I discovered the landscape oils were NOT behind a glass window; you could actually take pictures without reflections.  I was very happy with my photos and I can’t wait to see them on my big monitor at home.  It was a great day at the Met and I can’t wait to use it in my lesson plans.      

My favorite piece for the entire day was a romanticized scene of a Native American village in the mountains with a waterfall and a lake serving as a giant reflecting pool.  It is the return of a hunting party and everyone in the village is excited about the bounty.  Sadly, it looks better from a distance and I was unable to get a good photo of it…but I posted it anyway.  Another favorite is called “Kindred Spirits” and according to the information plaque, it is the “quintessential Hudson River School landscape” portrait.  I also liked a painting called “Banks of the Loing” which gives me great anticipation of the Erie Canal when we see it.  I also included in my post a famous portrait of Alexander Hamilton (perhaps the most overlooked guy in creating the Big Apple) and a parade of knights in shining armor.  But the object of my heart’s affection for the day was a small iron hunting dog made sometime in 15th or 16th Century Europe.      
























One Comment

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  1. Jonathan Rees / Jun 8 2010 12:08 am

    I’m still thinking you’re missing a few days, Howard.

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