bellini_giovanniA question in our mailbox today:  The name of the painting at the top of the page is Christ Carrying the Cross by Giovanni Bellini, painted sometime around 1505-1510.  Bellini was a leading light of the Venetian school and came from a family of artists.  This small painting may be found in the collection of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  The unique Venetian palace home of the Boston socialite houses a priceless exhibition of art, many items of religious subjects.  Mrs. Gardner was the altar guild directress for the Church of the Advent on Brimmer Street.  Belle Gardner was not only a patron of the arts, and a collector, but a mentor and benefactress to many up and coming belleartists of her time. (1840-1924).

In her many travels abroad she purchased works of art and linens and laces for her church.  There is a particularly beautiful lace frontlet which is still in use on special occasions.  There is a wonderful story about Mrs. Gardner, herself a devout lady, who on Good Friday, dressed from head to toe in black and heavily veiled, washing the three chancel steps going up to the high altar at The Advent on her knees.  Of course her maid knelt alongside, holding the sterling silver basin! 


Upon her death in 1924, her palace home in the fens was left to the public of Boston on the condition that nothing would ever be altered, removed, added to or changed in her home. This work of Bellini still stands over a small desk and her wish that a little vase of white flowers always rest beneath it is honored still.  She is still fondly recalled at the Church of the Advent.  Both the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and The Church of the Advent should be visited when in Boston.  The Advent http://www.theadvent.org/ has many exquisite fittings, artwork, chapel and high altars and  a magnificent reredos. The weekly and festival displays of church flowers are second to none.