10 treasures from around the world

Treasures at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum include works by Cellini and Michelangelo as well as objects from places like ancient Rome, 12th-century Spain, and Song Dynasty China.

“Pair of Folding Screens: Scenes From the Tale of Genji’’

Kano Tsunenobu

These two screens, painted with gold and colored pigments on paper, illustrate 12 chapters from the amorous 11th-century novel “The Tale of Genji.’’

“Esther Fainting Before Ahasuerus’’



One of many fine tapestries in the museum, this sumptuous and virtuosic piece, made in Brussels in the early 16th century, shows Esther, the Jewish Queen of Persia, pleading with her husband, King Ahasuerus, to repeal his order that all the Jews in his kingdom be murdered.

Mosaic Floor: Medusa

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This mosaic, originally installed in a Roman villa during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, is installed on the floor in the museum’s beautiful courtyard, and has the head of Medusa at its center.

“Bindo Altoviti’’

Benvenuto Cellini

An intimate, realistic bronze bust of this great patron of the arts and hated rival of Cosimo di Medici.




Commissioned by Michelangelo’s only known intimate female friend, the poet and widowed marchesa Vittoria Colonna, this superb drawing was inspired by Dante, whose words - “There they don’t think of how much blood it costs’’ - are legible on the cross behind the Virgin Mary.

Long Gallery Chapel

One of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s most powerful ensembles, this “chapel’’ includes beautiful stained glass, choir stalls, polychrome sculptures, and an altar with a superb baroque crucifix carved from ivory.

David L. Ryan Globe staff



This Iznik tile, with its rich turquoise, red, and blue coloration, dates to the second half of the 16th century and is unusual in its use of black outlining.

“Seated Guanyin’’



This large Song Dynasty sculpture shows a bodhisattva robed in princely garments. Representing calm and compassion, it was once placed over the doorway leading to Isabella Stewart Gardner’s private apartments.

“Crucified Christ’’


This large, painted wooden sculpture, from 12th-century Spanish Catalonia, shows Christ being removed from the cross. Raw and weather-beaten, it is one of the most intensely moving works in the museum.

Empty frame

Thirteen works were stolen from the museum in the early hours of March 18, 1990. Among them were irreplaceable treasures such as Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’’ - the master’s only known seascape - and Vermeer’s “The Concert,’’ one of only 34 extant works by Vermeer. A painting by Edouard Manet and five drawings by Edgar Degas were also taken. The frames are all we have left.