With over 2,500 pieces, including 800 paintings, it’s difficult to narrow down a list of favorites out of all of the beautiful works of art at Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation. Featuring paintings by Renoir, Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso, Van Gogh and other world-renowned artists paired alongside works of African and Asian sculpture, Ancient Roman or Egyptian artwork, and handcrafted furniture from around the world, the Barnes Foundation is one of a kind. The Barnes Foundation is a must-see for any visitor to Philadelphia, and a dedicated art connoisseur could spend days in foundation’s location off of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, but to make your visit easier we’ve put together this highlight list of our favorites in the Barnes Foundation Collection.
One of a number of Van Gogh’s paintings of the Roulin family, Van Gogh met the postman after moving to the city of Arles in southern France and the two became fast friends and drinking buddies. Van Gogh painted multiple portraits of every member of Roulin’s family in the winter of 1888, and the portrait exhibited at The Barnes Foundation is one of five painted of the postman in a variety of styles.
Painted during Cézanne’s final period, The Card Players is part of a series showing peasants in Provence, France quietly playing cards and smoking pipes. The work is unusual for the time, as in the late 1890s art gambling was often depicted as a raucous and immoral affair.
Seurat, originator of the pointillism painting style in which tiny dots of paint are used to make a larger image, painted Models as a response to people questioning whether his style could be used for something as complex as a nude, instead of his previous landscapes and scenery. Seurat’s famous A Sunday on La Grande Jatte is shown in the background as a reference to his previous work.
Albert Barnes added this piece to his collection during a time period in which many art collectors were buying African art as ethnographic museum pieces, not as genuine art. Barnes appreciated the artistic qualities of African sculptures, though, and paired them on display with contemporary paintings by Picasso and Modigliani to show their similarities and the inspiration that the European artists took from their African counterparts. For more information on the Barnes Foundation, check out our previous post on the museum here.