In the 1870s and 1880s, P. A. B. (Peter Arrell Brown) Widener made a fortune investing in trolley cars and public transportation, beginning in Philadelphia and expanding throughout the country. With his wealth Widener, like other rich men of the late-19th century, became an avid art collector. After his death, Widener's son, Joseph, continued adding to the collection he inherited from his father, improving it by selling less-important paintings and purchasing higher-quality paintings including the Vermeer shown in the last post and over a dozen Rembrandts. In 1939, Joseph Widener, in conversations with Andrew Mellon, agreed to donate his collection as part of a founding gift to create a National Gallery of Art. In 1942, just 18 months after the museum's opening, Widener's paintings joined Andrew Mellon's in the National Gallery of Art.

These were the Widener Rembrandt paintings on view:

The Circumcision (1661). P.A.B. Widener purchased this painting from the 5th Earl Spencer, the family of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Portrait of a Gentleman with a Tall Hat and Gloves (1658/1660) P.A.B. Widener purchased this painting from Prince Felix Yusupov, best known as the assassin of Rasputin.

Portrait of a Lady with an Ostrich-Feather Fan (1658/1660) P.A.B. Widener also purchased this painting from Prince Felix Yusupov, best known as the assassin of Rasputin.

Philemon and Baucis (1658). Purchased by Joseph Widener in 1922.

Portrait of a Man in a Tall Hat (1663). P.A.B. Widener purchased it in 1912.

The Mill (1645/1648). Even though the dramatic look of the painting was really caused by years of old varnish, art experts consider this painting to be one of Rembrandt's greatest creations.

Vermeer and Rembrandt make up a significant part of the National Gallery's Dutch collection, but there are dozens more to be seen. I'll continue showing you these paintings in my next post. 

The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets along Constitution Avenue.
  • Admission is always FREE.
  • Open Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Open Sunday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Closed on December 25 and January 1. 
All photos in this blog post were taken by me during my visit in September, 2013.

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