I've lived in DC off and on, and I've been to the National Gallery many times. But, perhaps because I hadn't given the permanent collection a good viewing for almost five years, I did so today.
For people who don't know or for those (such as myself) who have taken this gem for granted, I wanted to write this fresh tribute inspired by my visit today.
The National Gallery has had the great good fortune to receive unusually significant bequests from some of the largest art legacies in our nation's past. Just two to mention are the Kress Collection and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. There are several others.
Art lovers are the fortunate beneficiaries of these stunning and unprecedented gifts to this museum.
Let me note some of the unique treasures here: the only painting by Leonardo in the US (and it's spectacular), a couple of the finest Raphaels, several Giorgiones, virtually a room of Tintorettos, some extraordinary Botticellis, four or five Vermeers, an amazing array of Rembrandts, a fine collection of superb Impressionist pieces, and, of course, extraordinary American art, especially around the Founding and during the Expansion.
Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. You will see great art from all the major periods and outstanding work from most of the great artists. I'm just making the point that this museum has unique treasures, and I've tried to illustrate a few ways in which it is truly remarkable.
Pay careful attention. Plan in advance. And identify and appreciate the rarities that make this such a special place.