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Philadelphia Museum of Art – Virtual Tour 

Philadelphia Art Museum

Philadelphia Museum of Art – Virtual Tour 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is an art museum that was initially chartered in 1876 for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

The main museum building was completed in 1928 on a hill located at the northwest end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The museum’s collection contains over 240,000 objects with significant holdings of European, American, and Asian Art.

The artwork in the collection includes sculpture, paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, armor, and decorative arts.

A Virtual Tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Highlights Tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons by J. M. W. Turner

“The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons” by J. M. W. Turner depicts the fire that broke out at the Houses of Parliament in 1834.

Turner himself witnessed the Burning of Parliament from the south bank of the River Thames, opposite Westminster. The painting shows the Houses of Parliament overwhelmed in golden flames.

The fire is consuming the chamber of the House of Commons and is illuminating the towers of Westminster Abbey.

The fire reflects in the water and on a crowd of spectators in the foreground. To the right of the painting, Westminster Bridge looms bright white from the light of the fire.

The perspective of the bridge closest to the fire is distorted, emphasizing the fire’s’ destruction.

The Large Bathers” by Auguste Renoir

“The Large Bathers” or “Les Grandes Baigneuses” by Auguste Renoir depicts a scene of nude women bathing.

The figures have a sculptural quality, while the landscape behind them is bathed in an impressionist light.

 This painting was a new style for Renoir, who sought to reconcile the modern topics and painting styles with the traditions of the 17th and 18th-century art.

Renoir admired Rubens, Titian, and Raphael’s works, and he was trying to find an integrated form of the old masters and the new impressionist style.

Crucifixion Diptych” by Rogier van der Weyden

The “Crucifixion Diptych” is a diptych from 1460, attributed to Rogier van der Weyden. The two panels are noteworthy for their technical skill and their severe impact.

This painting possesses a directness unusual for the art of the time in the Netherlands.

The background to the panels is unknown, and there are many unanswered questions about this “Old Master Painting.”

At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance” is the second of many paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec depicting the Moulin Rouge cabaret built in Paris in 1889.

It portrays two dancers dancing the can-can in the middle of the crowded dance hall.

An inscription by Toulouse-Lautrec on the back of the painting reads: “The instruction of the new ones by Valentine the Boneless.”

This inscription indicates that the dancing man is Valentin le désossé, a well-known dancer at the Moulin Rouge, and he is teaching the newest addition to the cabaret.

The Large Bathers” by Paul Cézanne

“The Large Bathers” by Paul Cézanne is a reinterpreting of a historical tradition of painting nude figures in the landscape by famous artists such as Titian and Poussin.

Historically artists took inspiration from classical myths. Cézanne, however, was not depicting a mythological story.

He was more concerned with the harmony of the figures to the landscape. The Bathers series of paintings inspired Picasso, Matisse, and other artists in the early 1900s who were exploring and developing new art movements.

‘Bathers’ is reminiscent of previous artists’ works and forms a basis for comparisons with more modern works such as Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

“The Death of Sardanapalus” by Eugène Delacroix

“The Death of Sardanapalus” by Eugène Delacroix depicts the tale of Sardanapalus, a king of Assyria, who, according to an ancient story, exceeded all previous rulers in sloth and decadence.

He spent his whole life in self-indulgence, and when he wrote his epitaph, he stated that physical gratification is the only purpose of life.

His debauchery caused dissatisfaction within the Assyrian empire, allowing conspiracies against him to develop. Sardanapalus failed to defeat the rebels, and then enemies of the empire join the battle against him.

When Sardanapalus’ last defenses collapsed, to avoid falling into the hands of his enemies, Sardanapalus ordered a considerable funeral pyre.

On funeral pyre were piled all his gold and valuables. He also ordered that his eunuchs and concubines be boxed inside the fire to burn them and himself to death.

The king’s act of destroying his valued possessions, including people and goods, in a funerary pyre, demonstrates his final depravity.

“Noah’s Ark” by Edward Hicks

“The Death of Sardanapalus” by Eugène Delacroix depicts the tale of Sardanapalus, a king of Assyria, who, according to an ancient story, exceeded all previous rulers in sloth and decadence.

He spent his whole life in self-indulgence, and when he wrote his epitaph, he stated that physical gratification is the only purpose of life.

His debauchery caused dissatisfaction within the Assyrian empire, allowing conspiracies against him to develop. Sardanapalus failed to defeat the rebels, and then enemies of the empire join the battle against him.

When Sardanapalus’ last defenses collapsed, to avoid falling into the hands of his enemies, Sardanapalus ordered a considerable funeral pyre.

On funeral pyre were piled all his gold and valuables. He also ordered that his eunuchs and concubines be boxed inside the fire to burn them and himself to death.

The king’s act of destroying his valued possessions, including people and goods, in a funerary pyre, demonstrates his final depravity.

Prometheus Bound” by Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders

“Prometheus Bound” by Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders depicts the punishment of Prometheus. The immortal Prometheus was bound to a rock.

Each day an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, was sent to feed on his liver, which would then grow back overnight to be eaten the next day again.

In ancient Greece, the liver was thought to be the seat of human emotions. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a Titan who defies the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity, an act that enabled progress and civilization.

As a consequence, Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, sentenced the Titan to eternal torment for his transgression. Prometheus was eventually freed by the hero Heracles (Hercules).

Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge” by Mary Cassatt

“Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge” by Mary Cassatt is one of a series of theatre scenes in Paris created by Cassatt in the late 1870s.

This work shows a woman, assumed to be her sister Lydia seated in front of a mirror with the balconies of the Paris Opéra House reflected behind her.

This painting demonstrates the influence of Edgar Degas, one of her close friends, particularly in the depiction of the effects of the lighting. Cassatt and Degas had a long period of collaboration.

The two had studios close together, and Degas got into the habit of visiting Cassatt’s studio and offering her advice and help. He also introduced her other Impressionist artists and the city’s nightlife.

Portrait of Frances Sherborne Ridley Watts” by John Singer Sargent

“Portrait of Frances Sherborne Ridley Watts” depicts one of the artist’s childhood friend, Fanny Watts. The portrait was the first by Sargent to be exhibited at the Paris Salon.

The Salon was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Between 1748 and 1890, it was the most celebrated annual art event in the Western world.

The skin tones, subtle lighting, and brushwork demonstrated in this painting made John Singer Sargent one of the most sought-after portraitists of his time.

Jupiter and Callisto” attributed to Karel Philips Spierincks

“Jupiter and Callisto” attributed to Karel Philips Spierincks depicts on the left, Jupiter, disguised as Diana, goddess of the hunt, embraces the nymph Callisto.

In Greek mythology, Callisto was a beautiful young nymph, which attracted Zeus (Jupiter) attention. Zeus transformed himself into the figure of Diana to seduce and raped her in this disguise. 

Callisto became pregnant, and when this was eventually discovered, she was expelled as a follower from Diana’s group, after which a furious Hera, the wife of Zeus, transformed her into a bear.

Later, just as she was about to be killed by her son when he was hunting, she was set among the stars as Ursa Major “the Great Bear.” She was the bear-mother of the Arcadians, through her son Arcas by Zeus.

Mont Sainte-Victoire” by Paul Cézanne

“Mont Sainte-Victoire” by Paul Cézanne is part of the “Mont Sainte-Victoire” series of paintings. Cézanne enjoyed a magnificent view of the soaring mountain from across the valley and painted many different versions.

Cézanne first painted Mont Sainte-Victoire in 1870, beginning his decades-long fascination with the subject. 

Paul Cézanne created more than thirty paintings and watercolors of Mont Sainte-Victoire.

Waterfalls by Katsushika Hokusai

“A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces” by Katsushika Hokusai is a series of landscape woodblock prints by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai.

Completed between 1833–34 and containing eight prints, it was the first ukiyo-e series to approach the theme of falling water.

The waterfalls take up most of each print, dwarfing the scenes’ human inhabitants, which are rendered by Hokusai with a powerful sense of life, reflecting his animistic beliefs.

“Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky” by Benjamin West

“Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky” by Benjamin West depicts the American founding father, conducting his kite experiment to ascertain the electrical nature of lighting. 

This dramatic painting commemorates the 1752 experiment in Philadelphia in which Benjamin Franklin demonstrated that lightning is a form of electricity.

West was born in Pennsylvania, in 1738, when the American colonies were still part of the British Empire.

While he was in London, West befriended Franklin, a fellow Pennsylvanian, but did not create this painting of the American statesman until after his death.

West created this oil on slate, as a study for a larger, but an unrealized portrait.

“The Battle of the Kearsarge and the Alabama” by Édouard Manet

“The Battle of the Kearsarge and the Alabama” by Édouard Manet commemorates the Battle of Cherbourg of 1864, which was a naval engagement of the American Civil War.

The naval battle was between the Union cruiser USS Kearsarge and the Confederate raider CSS Alabama. Many spectators were able to see the action from the coast of France and saw the USS Kearsarge sink CSS Alabama.

Within one month of this battle, Manet had completed this painting, even though he had not witnessed the action himself. Manet relied on press descriptions of the battle and visits to Cherbourg to see the Kearsarge and compose this artwork. 

This painting was the first known seascape by Manet with his imaginative depiction of the naval battle fought off the coast of France. The C.S.S. Alabama, the scourge of Union shipping, is shown sinking by her stern.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

  • Name:                 Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • City:                    Philadelphia
  • Country:             United States
  • Established:        1876
  • Type:                   Art Museum
  • Collection Size:   240,000
  • Locations:           2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, United States

Your Visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art administers several annexes including:

  • the Rodin Museum
  • the Perelman Building
  • the historic colonial-era houses of Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove located in Fairmount Park.

Exhibitions are held in the museum every year, including touring exhibitions arranged with other museums in the United States and abroad. The museum is also one of the largest art museums in the world based on gallery space.

Explore Museums in Philadelphia

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Map for Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art – Philadelphia, PA

Frank Gehry’s Philadelphia Museum of Art renovation

Philadelphia Series – Visiting The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art: Masterpieces

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“In Boston they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?”
– Mark Twain

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Photo Credit: By Nfutvol (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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