The National Gallery of Art in Washington has a wonderful collection of French art. Vigée Le Brun, David, Ingrès, Fragonard: all the big names are there and not their minor works, either. Until January 2, 2012, there is a special exhibition of From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection. Chester Dale and his wife Maud were influential collectors and friends of the greatest artists of the early 20th century, including Picasso, Cassatt, Monet, Morisot, and Renoir. Eighty canvases of over 300 that the Dales bequeathed to the museum are present. Not only is the collection lovely, but the museum itself is impressive. There is a huge central rotunda and lovely fountains planted with greenery. The exhibit, as well as admission to the museum, is free.
Today’s expression. donner du coeur au ventre (done-ay due cur owe ventruh) means “to give heart to the belly” or to encourage. I imagine the friendship and patronage of Chester Dale did the heart of an artist good, just as a visit to the National Gallery will do any visitor’s heart good.