Isabella Stewart Gardner

Boston's Wild Woman

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Born in New York City on April 14, 1840

Married John "Jack" Stewart on April 10, 1860

Collected art on her many travels

Museum first opened on New Year's night 1903

She held the belief that art was for the masses to enjoy

Friend and Host to many great artists, including:


  1. painter John Singer Sargent
  2. writer Sarah Orne Jewett
  3. Philosopher George Santayana
  4. Poet T.S. Elliot


She was good friends with author Henry James, and was even said to have been the basis for the protagonist, Isabel Archer, in his 1881 novel The Portrait of a Lady.

Often attended the Boston Symphony Orchestra

On the extensive gossip surrounding her, she once said, "Don't spoil a good story by telling the truth."

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

"...The whole work was clearly in her mind before the corner-stone was laid; she directed eery detail and, it is said, would herself climb the workman's ladder to splash the color on to the walls, which, if true to type, must show the action of sea-fret on rose-color stucco."

- Martha A. S. Shannon

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Boston, Massachusetts

"Years ago I decided that the greatest need in our Country was Art... We were a very yound country and had very few opportunities of seeing beautiful things, works of art... So, I determined to make it my life's work if I could.

- Isabella Stewart Gardner, 1917

Located in Boston, Massachusetts

Also known as Fenway Court

Modeled after "a 15th-century Venetian palace"

Constructed with pieces from many different Italian palaces

Over 2,500 items, including works by Rembrandt, Titian, Raphael and many others

Decorated and curated with a warmth not usually present in art museums

She passed away in 1824, leaving the Gardner to the city of Boston in her will, as a public museum to be preserved without change

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