She was a woman ahead her time, bending gender norms with her curious nature that led her to delve deep into the worlds of art, literature, sports and philanthropy. Isabella Stewart Gardner was a staple in high society Boston, often regaling locals with her carefree attitude, eccentric lifestyle and thirst for adventure. Here’s a glimpse into what made Isabella tick.
She was an Avid Red Sox Fan
Although Isabella was born in New York City, and didn’t move to Boston until just before her 20th birthday, she was a diehard Red Sox fan. In 1912, she showed up for a concert at the prestigious Symphony Hall sporting a white headband adorned with the saying, “Oh you Red Sox.” The phrase was popularized by a band known for their raucous nature, scared fellow concert goers, causing a scene and disturbing the musicians. The event was the talk of the town due to Isabella’s fashion statement.
Traveling and Collecting Art Helped Her Overcome the Grief of Losing Her Son
Like many others, Isabella’s life was full of highs and lows. When her young son, Jackie, died of pneumonia she fell into a terrible depression that was only worsened by a miscarriage, and the news she would be unable to conceive again. In an effort to get back his lively, vibrant wife, Jack whisked Isabella away to tour the world. It wasn’t long before her adventurous spirit returned.
The Museum was Built upon the Legacy of Her Late Husband
Isabella and Jack Gardner spent much of their married life traveling to places like Italy, France, Russia, and a host of other hotbeds of culture and beauty. Along their path, they would come across cultural wares, masterpieces created by some of the world’s most elite artists, and trinkets made by unknowns. They’d purchase anything that caught their well-trained eyes, and use the souvenirs to decorate their Boston mansion. It was their collective dream to build a museum to house their collection. When Jack passed away, Isabella knew it was of the upmost importance to make it happen. She immediately began construction on what is now the home to their life’s work.
Wine? Champagne? Nope… Bring this Woman a Beer!
Isabella Stewart Gardner may have let her money go to her home, but never to her head. Her fine taste in beautiful art was trumped by her bohemian lifestyle, which included many parties with artists from around the world. While many women of the time chose not to drink, or would celebrate with champagne, Gardner preferred to pair a cold beer with a cigarette during her gatherings.
Isabella Stewart Gardner took advantage of her good fortune, living life to its fullest. She traveled the world, socialized with some of the most prolific artists and writers of her time, knew all the Rex Sox players personally, and would walk the streets with her pet lion (on a leash of course). Learn more about this magnificent woman’s life at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, where her legacy lives on.