Isabella Stewart Gardner was an heiress and something of a black sheep of late-19th- and early-20th-century Boston society: She was a rabid Red Sox and horse-racing fan. Funded by a $1.75 million inheritance, Gardner personally designed this four-story building, modeled on a Venetian palazzo, to house her extensive collection of art and antiquities.
The collection includes 15th-century Flemish tapestries, a first edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy, inscrutable documents like the one signed by Marie Antoinette, and paintings by Monet, Sargent, Holbein, Whistler, Rembrandt, Matisse, Michelangelo, and Titian. A visit to the museum is like meandering through a treasure chest of a wealthy, if eccentric, great aunt.

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