Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924)

Mrs Isabella (Stewart) Gardner

Associated Houses

Palazzo Barbaro

San Marco 2840, Venice

She was born and brought up in New York City. She lived in France and Italy for two years before returning to the States where she married Jack Gardner in 1860. They lived at 152 Beacon Street in Boston, but after losing their only child in childhood they took to travelling in Europe. They returned in 1875 after Jack's brother, Joseph, died and they brought up his three orphaned sons. After her father died in 1891, she inherited $1.75 million and began to collect European fine art. Their favorite place to visit was Venice in Italy where they always stayed with the Curtis' at the famed Palazzo Barbaro. After Jack's death in 1898 and with her art collection having outgrown their home on Beacon Street, she built Fenway Court modelled on the Renaissance palaces of Venice. She lived on the fourth floor and opened it as a private museum from 1903. After she died, she left it to the public and it is now the "Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum".  
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 10/10/2018 and last updated on 16/01/2021.