From Private Setting to Public Garden
Follow the journey of Marc Chagall’s masterful mosaic, Orphée, from its original setting in a private Georgetown garden through extensive conservation at the National Gallery of Art to its installation in a secluded spot in the Gallery’s Sculpture Garden. Chagall designed the 10-by-17-foot mosaic as a wedding gift to John and Evelyn Nef, Washington art collectors and philanthropists, proclaiming: “Nothing for the house. The house is perfect as it is. But I will do something for the garden: a mosaic.” Fully realized by mosaic artist Lino Melano, Orphée presided over the Nefs’ garden for over 40 years, until it was bequeathed to the Gallery in 2009. For three years, a team of Gallery staff and contractors collaborated to safely remove the mosaic from its original garden setting, to stabilize each of the 10 panels and prepare them for reinstallation, and to attach them to a new wall in the Sculpture Garden, recreating the contemplative setting of the Nefs’ garden. This once hidden jewel now delights visitors to the Sculpture Garden.