“By the time I went to Harvard, I had decided I wanted to be in the museum world, so I took a course at the university’s Fogg Museum. There were only ten of us in that class, largely people who were already museum directors and had come from Europe looking for a posting in the United States. In 1945 the Fogg Museum director, Paul J. Sachs, took us to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. He showed us the vaults, which contained treasures that had been sent from Europe for safekeeping during the war.
“Of course, there were guards all over the place. The paintings were on sliding racks, but there were a lot of smaller things on tables. We were so close, we could almost touch them. This painting by Rogier van der Weyden stood out among all the paintings that we saw. I was deeply moved by this beautiful little portrait ... its elegant simplicity ... its dignity and deep sense of piety conveyed by the pose with downcast eyes, together with the artist’s formal treatment of the figure expressed in graceful flowing line and precise modelling of the face and headdress. All through my student years, I loved Northern Renaissance painters—van der Weyden, Vermeer, and others.”