Art: Public Favorites (No.1)

Each year some 2,000,000 visitors roam the marble vastness of Washington's National Gallery. Its 4½ acres of art treasures cover the history of Western painting from Byzantium to Bellows (George). The visitors always linger over such masterpieces as Giorgione's Adoration of the Shepherds and Raphael's Alba Madonna, but their favorite is one of the gallery's least-assuming pictures—Auguste Renoir's A Girl with a Watering Can.

This painting leads the gallery's reproduction sales; the guides are questioned about it constantly, and copyists prefer it to all others. Critic Roger Fry once explained Renoir's popularity by remarking that the gentle master "liked passionately the obviously...

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