Sunday, July 18, 2010
July 18, 2010: Washington - Dupont Circle, National Gallery of Art
This morning I walked over the bridge to the farmer's market at Dupont Circle. It was a great market - at least 20 stalls, and lots of variety. Unfortunately I was so winded by the heat and humidity by the time I got there that I had no enthusiasm for shopping and carrying purchases around. So I kept walking until I found the Whole Foods on P Street, where I enjoyed some air conditioning while shopping for food that wouldn't be available at the market. Unfortunately, by the time I got back to the market I'd missed my chance for a few things (the kale was all gone - sigh), but still got enough delicious fruits and vegetables to make the trip worthwhile. Next time I'll take the subway there and back if it's as hot as it has been for all my time so far in Washington. After a full week of this I'm having to conclude that the climate truly is different here, and it's important to accept the heat rather than denying it.
In the afternoon I went to the National Gallery of Art (the West Building only) for a great collection of paintings and sculpture. Highlights were a collection of paintings by Martin Johnson Heade, three Vermeer paintings, an exhibition of German drawings and watercolours (which included 2 pieces by Caspar David Friedrich), and Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de'Benci (easily the most photographed painting in the museum). Most interesting find was 'Portrait of a Young Woman as a Wise Virgin' by Sebastian del Piombo, c 1510. Not an artist I'm familiar with. A very modern-looking portrait in comparison to the others in its gallery - not idealized, but very specific to the person he painted.
On the way home I stopped in at Barnes & Noble to do a little reading (tried out a Janet Evanovich mystery - not sure yet if it's worth finishing; read a few essays by David Sedaris).
After one full week of living in Washington I'm pretty pleased. The free museums are great - not only do they not cost anything, but it means there are virtually no line-ups to get in anywhere, because there are no ticket transactions that have to take place. And, with the huge quanity of museums in town to choose from, I have yet to encounter any real crowds on the level of what I've seen in other major tourist destinations like New York or London.
Photos: Reflection from the oculus of the National Gallery dome onto a marble pillar; tourists crowd Ginevra; Sebastian del Piombo's painting