A capital idea

Andrew Mellon was not only a great Secretary of the Treasury, he was also a philanthropist of note. Thanks to him we have Washington’s magnificent National Gallery of Art. It was Mellons’s dream to acquire an art collection that would form the nucleus of a National Gallery of Art in Washington, funded by him and designed by architect John Russell Pope. Mellon made it come to pass.
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Bruce Cole recalls: “Mellon followed this dream as the Depression dragged on, even though there had been an attempt in Congress to impeach him in 1932 and he was being tried for tax evasion on politically motivated charges by the hostile Roosevelt administration, which saw him as the original ‘fat cat.'” Cole adds: “He was exonerated only after his death.”
Cole’s wonderful column on the National Gallery of Art (“[Pope’s] masterpiece”) pays fitting tribute both to Mellon and to Pope. The column is “A capital idea.”
I had the great good fortune of catching the National Gallery’s Gilbert Stuart exhibit in 2005. The National Gallery’s collection of 40 Stuart paintings was represented by eight works in the exhibit. It has posted its Stuart holdings here.


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