Only two more weeks to see 'Botticelli to Braque' at the de Young
Botticelli’s “The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child" (ca. 1485), greets the visitor at the entry. The painting, never before shown in the US, is one of Botticelli’s masterpieces, showcasing his delicate linear style in tempera, oil and gold on canvas.
The subject of Rembrandt's luminous "A Woman in Bed" (1647), could represent any one of several important women in his life. A woman with her back propped by a pillow pushes the bed curtain aside to welcome an unknown visitor. Signed, dated 164* (the last digit is missing), the picture is one of those Rembrandt's that no one questions. Nor should they; the intense emotion, the play of golden light over her face and form are identity enough.
El Greco’s “Allegory of a Boy Lighting a Candle” is one of his rare secular works. It could be a representation of human lust, since a delicious young woman – and a not so delicious monkey flank him. Whatever the meaning, the elongated figures and strong color contrasts make the work stand out, even in a gallery of old masters.
John Singer Sargent. "Portrait of Lady Agnew."
The most impressive landscape painting in the show is Frederic Church’s sublime “Niagara Falls, From the American Side” (1867)—an atmospheric vision of water, mist, rocks and distant hills. The de Young Museum itself has an impressive collection of American art, including paintings by many members of the Hudson River School, including Church, and devotes a large gallery within the museum overlooking its expansive garden with grand-scale land scape paintings.
The next to last gallery has a wall of impressionists including one of my favorite Cezanne’s. “The Big Trees” (c 1904), painted shortly before his death (1906) encapsulates his art with a landscape etched out with geometric squares and muted color schemes.
Gauguin's "Three Tahitians" - an allegory of vice or virtue. When Gauguin, it's always safe to pick the more risque interpretation.