The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is quite a legacy and I’m glad we saved this for last. As you might recall from Part 1, John Ringling amassed a fortune estimated to be $200 million. During their marriage, John and Mabel made a fortune, but also made trips to Europe and to New York auction houses to acquire art.
Apparently they studied up and made some amazing purchases that included paintings, tapestries, furniture and sculptures from the likes of Rubens, Rembrandt and Rodin. Their favorites were Baroque and quite a bit from Italy, but most were stunning in size and beauty.
To round out the rags to riches story of the Ringlings, Mabel passed away and John seemed to lose his business focus. In addition, John made a $1.7 million purchase just weeks before the stock market crash of 1929. In spite of all that, he was determined to keep the collection together for Mabel. When he finally passed away, he had a mere $311 in the bank. Make that a rags to riches to rags story. Since the Ringlings never had any children, John bequeathed the museum and art collection to the State of Florida and on Mondays it is totally free!
There is a tremendous amount of art history and information at the museum, but I’m only going to show you what looked good to me. That is art after all – what speaks to you, right?
Oh my, how I just love all the little cherubs. Apparently John and Mabel did, too. We were enthralled by the first gallery full of Rubens tapestry paintings. There are 7 of these in the world and 5 are here. Talk about jaw-dropping.
The First Rubens in the gallery – with me for scale
The Rubens gallery had bigger than life paintings and plenty of beautiful cherubs. It was an amazing collection of religious art.
The paintings are of tapestries within tapestries with the little cherubs holding them up. Such an interesting technique and took me a bit to see it.
Isn’t this little imp the best? He’s holding up Aphrodite’s robes
Finally, one more painting with beautiful cherubs. So rosy and roly poly.
The Old and The Interesting
We realized after walking through several galleries that we were face-to-face with these old masters. Literally we could have touched them if we wanted. The Rodin sculpture was in a case, but most pieces were just out there.
Sculpture from 1490
Can you even imagine art that has survived for 526 years and is just hanging on the wall in front of you?
I know the pictures don’t do justice to the art, but this particular Madonna seemed to be looking directly at you know matter where you stood in front of the painting. Phenomenal work.
“Boy with thorn” along with the most beautiful harpsichord I’ve ever seen. It was covered with intricate paintings like the one below it.
My Other Favorites
That cow face detail was amazing. Didn’t expect to see a cattle drive in the collection.
Not sure why I liked this one so much. The face detail was so specific and again – big, big, big. John Ringling really liked the large epic paintings.
Lamentations from Rembrandt
Actually, they think several of Rembrandt’s apprentices assisted with this painting. But wow! A Rembrandt right there on the wall in Sarasota.
Lygia and The Bull
Pat asked the docent if this was a form of torture and sure enough it was. Lygia was tied to the bull as punishment for her faith. She was saved before being killed by the bull. A gruesome story, but the work is so detailed and unique that you just can’t help but stare. This is right in front before you enter the museum. They don’t know why or how John Ringling acquired this piece.
Sculpture Garden Favorites
The statue of David is the centerpiece in the garden. I really liked Atlas and the hot pink bougainvillea framed all the sculptures.
And the Turtle
With all the artsy stuff, I had to include something completely unrelated. This guy was hanging about in the pond by the museum. An alligator snapping turtle with his own dragonfly hitchhiker.
See you on the way!