When one arrives in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he or she may be surprised, as I was, by its grand entrance. Upon entering this large pillared building, one is almost overwhelmed by the immense collection. Although very extensive, the museum undoubtedly concentrates on the grouping and placement of paintings and sculptures within the building.
Through chronological and thematic paths, the museum takes the viewer through the major contributors to the advancement of art, from around the world. Separated by only a marble floor, the room containing Salomon Van Ruisdael's Landscape with Cattle and an Inn, differs greatly from that of Claude Monet's, Railroad Bridge at Argenteuil. These two paintings, when surrounded by the art of their contemporaries, create an environment for the viewer that parallels their original context. The halls of the Museum are set up in a long and slim rectangle with open doorways between all of them. The opening hallway to the Dutch gallery is modest in its wooden paneling until one turns and enters thefirst room on the right. Beautifully creased wood panels, line the walls, while intricately carved panels hold the grand window directly across from the door. Rich in color, the walls make one feel very comfortable in this intimate surrounding. The feel of the wood almost brings the viewer back to 17th century Holland.
Reflecting off the V-shaped wood paneled floor, light flows through the window, illuminating the Dutch landscapes. A simple wooden throne sits against one wall, and a short dresser rests along the opposite wall. Instead of being labeled directly under or beside the painting, there are simply numbers which lead one toa book of descriptions. This groups the paintings together as one description of Dutch life, removing the initial need to fin! Because the viewer is able to view Ruisdael's Landscape with Cattle and an Inn through the doorway, ..