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By The Affluent Traveler
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Destination & Tours
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Off the Beaten Path
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Travel Buzz
Artistry in Residence
By Malia Vrooman

Home to many of the world's most recognized and beloved works of art, Europe's vast collection continues to lure and fascinate visitors from around the world. In fact, the inspiration behind these enduring works is often just as compelling as each of the paintings and sculptures. Whether it's gazing alongside the pond made famous by Monet's WATER LILLIES or strolling the piazza where Michelangelo served his apprenticeship, the opportunity to experience the very places which inspired history's greatest artistic achievements is nothing less than spectacular-of course the art itself is pretty cool too.

Monet's House and Gardens • Giverny, France

ClaudeMonet's (1840-1926) name will forever be synonymous with two things: French Impressionism and water lilies. While Monet's work can be found on display in various museums throughout the world, his home and gardens in Giverny, France remain a testament to the beauty which he so adored. About an hour and a half north of Paris, Giverny is a small, charming town best known as the location for the ponds in which Monet often painted.

Today, you can tour both Monet's famous water garden and home to gain deeper insight into the master artist's life. A connecting underground corridor and flower-lined path leads guests to the legendary lily pond which is fed by a gentle stream. Here, art enthusiasts of all ages can relax among the scenery's peacefulness.

Across the street from the Monet's water garden, the large farm house sits on a slight rise with rows flowers and their intoxicating perfume leading the way. On the first floor of the house is a large dining room and kitchen-including the salon where Monet painted. Reproductions of his most well-known paintings line the walls, all the originals now residing the various museums. You can also tour the home's second level which features Monet's bedroom and collection of smaller sized bedrooms as well.

The Rembrandt House Museum • Amsterdam, Netherlands

Renowned Dutch painter and etcher, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606- 1669)-better known simply as Rembrandt-lived and painted for a number of years on Jodenbreestraat, a street in the center ofAmsterdam. On June 10th, 1911 QueenWilhelmina of the Netherlands officially opened the Rembrandt House Museum, transforming Rembrandt's former home into a fitting monument for his artistic contributions.

The Rembrandt House Museum holds a rich and varied history, just as the artist himself. Rembrandt originally purchased the house in 1639 and lived there until he went bankrupt in 1656. That same year his property and personal collection of art were sold as Rembrandt moved into a small rented house, where he lived until his death in 1669.

During the museum's early years, its collection of Rembrandt's etchings grew steadily as a result of gifts and purchases. Temporary exhibitions were held at regular intervals, but few changes were made to the interior of the house. Eventually, the museum trustees succeeded in acquiring the adjacent premises, enabling them to build an extension to the museum.

Today the Rembrandt House Museum attracts many visitors with its permanent display of Rembrandt's etchings and important exhibitions. The museum currently includes later European artists, among them many 18th-century German and Austrian painters and etchers. The collection also features etchings by Christian Wilhelm Dietrich, Georg Friedrich Schmidt, and others. As it now stands, the collection provides an almost complete overview of Rembrandt's graphic work: 260 of the 290 etchings he made are represented.

The Genius of Michelangelo • Florence, Italy

His very name conjures visions of artistic perfection, whether it's by way of his drawings, sculptures, paintings or architecture.Michelangelo (1475-1564) is undoubtedly the greatest artist to have crossed over and mastered art's various forms.Though he worked in cities throughout Italy, Michelangelo's greatest collection of work remains on display in Florence.

Florence provides a befitting backdrop for touring the artist'smythical works.A wonderful starting point for your tour is Piazza San Marco where Michelangelo served his apprenticeship as a sculptor. It is here where the artist honed his skills for creating his masterpiece, the Statue of David.The aweinspiring marble statue, along with unfinished pieces such as the St.Matthew, Four Prisoners and Palestrina Pieta, can be viewed at the Museum of the Academia.

From the Palazzo Medici-where Michelangelo altered the loggia by closing it and adding "kneeling windows"-your tour continues up the stairs in the cloister.Here you'll come to theMuseum of theMedici Chapels where you can view themarble sculptures of the Madonna and Child,Giuliano Duke of Nemours, Lorenzo Duke of Urbino, and the four allegorical statues of Dawn and Dusk, Night and Day. No tour would be complete without visiting theOpera del Duomo and the Bargello. In theOpera del Duomo you can view the Pietà, with its famous self-portrait of Michelangelo;while at the Bargello, youthful pieces such as the Bacchus and the PittiTondo are prominently on view.



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