After the death of their 20-month-old son Jackie in 1865, Isabella Stewart Gardner and her husband Jack sought solace by traveling the world by boat, train and foot. They traveled for months at a time, paid for with wealth from investments in real estate and industry.
Gardner recorded her adventures to more than 39 countries (based on today’s borders) between 1867 and 1895 in albums collaged with tourist souvenir photos (think early postcards), pressed botanicals and various papers. They’re featured in “Fellow Wanderer: Isabella’s Travel Albums” at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum from Feb. 16 to May 21, 2023.
“A contemporary look at the albums also provides a tool for considering the ways in which the couple’s trips,” the museum says, “—and their perceptions of foreign cultures, many under European imperial rule—were facilitated by their status as wealthy white Americans.”
A year-long trip around the world from 1883 to 1884 to China, Japan, India, Cambodia’s 12th-century temple complex Angkor Wat, ending with a month Europe, primarily in Venice, Italy. While in northwest India, Gardner watched a performance of the court dance nautch.
“The setting, a central courtyard surrounded by open balconies, may look familiar,” a museum sign explains. “The space recalls Gardner’s own museum Courtyard: she seems to have been inspired both by Mughal and Italian architecture when designing the space.”
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