The beautiful ceiling in the entrance of the Ringling Museum of Art

John Manners, Marquis of Granby by Joshua Reynolds - 1766 (photo courtesy of Ringling Museum of Art)

One of the museum's priceless treasures, La Sultana Rossa, by Titian - 1550's (photo courtesy of Ringling Museum of Art)

Here are I am on the loggia with a larger-than-life size urn. I could've taken this piece home with me. It would make for a very cool outdoor sculpture. The color is right up my alley as well!

One of the intricately carved, yet borderline gauche, architectural pieces that John Ringling imported or bought from auctions to furnish his museum and mansion, Ca D'Zan (or House of John).

This painting is not overly famous, yet you don't often seen Joseph pictured with the baby Jesus and I thought this had an especially nice quality to it. It was painted by Murillo in the 17th century. Unfortunately, I was very remiss and neglected my blogger's duty to take notes with some of my photos.I was too busy trying to obscure my camera from view of the museum police (btw, I DID NOT use a flash). For not labeling, I will certainly receive the "REMISS BLOGGER OF THE DAY" distinction.

A bust of me, before the chin implant and neck lipo. Actually, this is of Princess Anne.....

A very impressive portrait of Marie Antoinette in pastels by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun! A truly amazing feat, considering this is about 10 feet in length and done entirely in chalks!(Please excuse my inferior, out-of-focus photography - not my strong suit!)

There is a large collection of Florentine and Venetian paintings here at the Ringling Museum of Art

One of the expansive marble loggias that line the inner courtyard

This tree was almost as impressive as any of the contents of the museum. These Banyan trees are native to Florida and their root systems are amazing. They grow to be absolutely massive.

An ornate verdigris iron doorway - I love the color against the pink of the building

A view of the inner courtyard. Apparently, circus magnate John Ringling (one of Sarasota's most famous residents) had so much excess cash, that he traveled to Europe and major auction houses looking for paintings, antiques and treasures that he could bring home to furnish his home and museum. He was a colorful fellow, to say the least. After seeing his bust at the museum, I would definitely have to term him a "Beefcake". He comes across as a wee bit narcissistic, but pretty generous at the same time. My theory is that he was extremely insecure and, as often is the mode of the nouveau-riche, spent his life flaunting his money in an effort to prove that he wasn't just a "Circus Guy". He did amass quite an impressive collection of art, antiques and architectural pieces.
The museum is home to several major works, including those of Rembrandt, Reynolds, El Greco, Gainsborough, Velazquez, Rubens and van Dyck. Not too shabby for a town the size of Sarasota. Mr. Ringling had quite a flair for the showy and dramatic, but how could you expect anything less from a guy who started a circus? He and his wife ended up totally broke and he bequeathed his estate to the State of Florida. The locals are certainly enriched because of it and the Museum is now the official art museum for the State of Florida. It makes for a great outing whether you live nearby or are in town visiting.
I have to say, most of the people lurking on stools in the galleries, guarding the paintings, were extremely courteous and didn't give you the evil eye, as is sometimes the case in museums. However, upon our exit, we did encounter a somewhat overzealous granny, who was so intent on getting our umbrella claim check before we could touch our umbrella, that she practically tackled us. She reminded me of one of those ladies who used to glare at me in a gift shop when I was a kid. The look said it all, "if you so much as touch ANYTHING, I will cut your little fingers off immediately!" Well, at least she is taking her job seriously, right? If you have a moment, take a look at the website here - there are even virtual tours to view.

The marble pieces are exquisite. This is one of many that stands under the covered portico surrounding the courtyard.

There are many beautiful fountains and sculptures on the grounds

Here is a more expansive view of the East Wing (on an uncharacteristically sunless Florida day)

More courtyard adornments

This is a (much smaller) replica of the famous Romulus and Remus statue that is the sacred symbol of Rome. The original is located in Italy. Is it just me, or do you find this a tad disturbing?? Two little guys nursing on a she-wolf?? Come on....Isn't ancient mythology weird? Inter species lactation? Very warped!!

The "Crown Jewel" of the Ringling Museum, the actual cast of Michelangelo's "David". This also happens to be the symbol for the City Of Sarasota, Florida.