25 Apr,2019 By Jagabond
I found myself alone and roving through Pasadena recently. It felt like reliving my years of solo travel, where I wandered anonymously through European cities unnoticed by most. Some associate solitude with loneliness, but when traveling I think of it more like freedom. You can roam where you want, and this roaming often leads to stumbling upon something special.
I guess that concept doesn’t only work in Europe. While in Pasadena I stumbled upon the Norton Simon Museum, named after its financial benefactor who also donated his extensive art collection. The diversity of European paintings here was impressive, including Renaissance, Baroque and Impressionist pieces. Let me be clear, this is an incredible museum. I list my favorites below.
Who doesn’t love a good David versus Goliath story? This piece depicts the original fight with skull crushing realism.
Van Gogh dazzles with this burst of color, depicting the almost complacent look of a poor Frenchman.
Ballet dancers have a dreamlike quality to them, and Degas seems to capture that with this surreal image.
Monet rented a house here during a very sad and difficult time of his life. This optimistic depiction of a colorful garden proves he never let those bad times hinder his art.
Renoir painted many of these during his career. This piece perfectly blends the female body with her natural surroundings.
Note the detail here characteristic of Flemish art. On the far right you see a lion, who became Jerome’s loyal friend after he removed a thorn from his paw.
During his time in Nice, Matisse mastered the painting of odalisques, or female concubines. This one here is less racy than most, and has a Moroccan influence.
I love the realism here, showing the industrial pipes spewing smoke as women casually go for a riverside walk.
Without knowing anything about the history of this work, it immediately appealed to me. The colors, the strange face in the mirror, the odd sensuality of the woman…I loved it.
This immortalizes the fantasy of walking through a quiet, wooded area and coming across a trio of women bathing nude in the river.
Ever get some shocking news? This former altarpiece imagines Mary and her reaction to being chosen as the mother of Christ.
This painting disturbed me, though I’m not sure that was its intention. I visualized a lonely old woman, whose only respite from her mundane life was knitting.
Is this the ideal date? The woman brings the man to a secluded spot in the forest, brilliantly painted by Fragonard. We could use more ‘happy lovers’ in the world today.
My eyes rapidly fixated on the colors here. It reminds me of my redheaded wife in the lush, green garden we hope to have someday.
The museum is located towards the end of Colorado Boulevard, the main street in Old Town Pasadena. It’s a short walk from the Gamble House, the other main tourist attraction in Pasadena. Admission cost is $15, and children under 18, students and military get in for free. You can find out more about their hours and exhibit schedule on their website www.nortonsimon.org.