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MFA Images: American Impressionism & Related Works

  • MFA Images: American Impressionism & Related Works - Slide

  • Woods in the Fall

    undated

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    35.6 x 25.4cm (14 x 10in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    65.1300

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    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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  • Blossoming Trees

    1882

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 26.7 x 22.9 cm (10 1/2 x 9 in.)

    Medium

    Opaque watercolor on brown paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    65.1301

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  • The Rider

    1913–15

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 29.2 x 41.6 cm (11 1/2 x 16 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor and graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    64.1604

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  • Spanish Street

    1889

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 30.5 x 40.8 cm (12 x 16 1/16 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    64.1908

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  • South Boston Pier, Sunset

    1895–97

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 53 x 67 cm (20 7/8 x 26 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Pastel on paper

    Classification

    Pastels

    Accession Number

    63.281

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  • The Knolls, New Hampshire

    1879–1935

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    25.4 x 35.6cm (10 x 14in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite pencil

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    65.1302

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  • Lady Reading

    1898

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    48.6 x 30.8cm (19 1/8 x 12 1/8in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    65.1303

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  • Umbrellas in the Rain

    1899

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 35.4 x 53 cm (13 15/16 x 20 7/8 in.) Framed: 61 x 78.4 cm (24 x 30 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper; verso: pencil and watercolor sketch for arcade and lamp post.

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    59.57

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  • Santa Maria Formosa, Venice

    1912

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 55.9 x 38.7 cm (22 x 15 1/4 in.) Framed: 78.1 x 61.9 cm (30 3/4 x 24 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor and graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    59.58

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  • West Church, Boston

    1900–01

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 27.8 x 39.1cm (10 15/16 x 15 3/8in.) Framed: 39.4 x 51.8 cm (15 1/2 x 20 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Transparent and opaque watercolor over graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    58.1199

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  • The End Men

    about 1914

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 31.4 x 41.6 cm (12 3/8 x 16 3/8 in.) Framed: 49.8 x 59.7 cm (19 5/8 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    58.980

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  • Chatou near Bougival

    1889

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 25.2 x 35.2 cm (9 15/16 x 13 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Transparent and opaque watercolor on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    58.598

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  • Sunlight on the Piazzetta

    1898–99

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 31.4 x 52.4 cm (12 3/8 x 20 5/8 in.) Framed: 53.3 x 71.1 cm (21 x 28 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    61.963

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  • Nocturne, Railway Crossing, Chicago

    1893

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 40.6 x 29.8cm (16 x 11 3/4 in.) Framed: 56.8 x 46.7 cm (22 3/8 x 18 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Opaque watercolor on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    62.986

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  • Eleanor

    1907

    Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862–1951)

    Description

    A sparkling icon of wholesome American girlhood, Frank Weston Benson’s Eleanor depicts the painter’s daughter on the porch of their summer home at North Haven, Maine. Benson won national acclaim for his sunny scenes of healthy children enjoying an outdoor country life, and Eleanor is one of his most beloved images. It was purchased for the MFA’s collection almost immediately after it was finished.
    At the time, Benson, along with his friend Edmund Charles Tarbell [23.532], was one of the chief instructors of painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He was also an alumnus of the school who, like many of his contemporaries, went on to complete his artistic education in Paris. In the 1890s Benson developed his characteristic style, combining the bright colors and fluid brushwork of French Impressionism with the firm foundation in academic figure painting he had learned at the Académie Julian. In 1898 Benson and Tarbell became founding members of the Ten. This band of American painters was dedicated to promoting and exhibiting their work outside of the traditional system of juried exhibitions. The young artists had become frustrated with the conservative juries that controlled most of the major annual exhibitions, and they held independent shows in New York, and occasionally in Philadelphia and Boston, until 1919. Eleanor was included in their 1908 display.

    Benson’s portrait of his daughter is a textbook example of the manner in which most American artists adapted Impressionism. Benson esteemed his academic training and never dissolved his figures into light to the degree that French artists favored. He used a small brush to define Eleanor’s features, painting her realistically with an authentic sense of weight and volume. But Benson gave himself much more freedom in other parts of the composition: the shimmering sea and leaves seem to vibrate with intensity, Eleanor’s pink dress is loosely painted with broad strokes, and the details of her hat are abbreviated. The whole effect is vital and effervescent, much like an ideal summer day.

    This text was adapted from Elliot Bostwick Davis et al., American Painting [http://www.mfashop.com/9020398034.html], MFA Highlights (Boston: MFA Publications, 2003).

    Details

    Dimensions

    64.13 x 76.83 cm (25 1/4 x 30 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    08.326

    Collections

    Americas

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  • In the Loge

    1878

    Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)

    Description

    Mary Stevenson Cassatt, raised near Pittsburgh and first trained as a painter in Philadelphia, became nineteenth-century America’s most modern painter. Like many of her contemporaries, Cassatt felt that her artistic education in the United States was inadequate, and she traveled to Europe soon after the Civil War. She studied in both Italy and France, and by 1873 she had made Paris her home. While most of her compatriots were proud of the education they received in the art schools of the French capital, Cassatt soon tired of the conservative approach taught in those academies and perpetuated by the exhibitions they organized. She felt strongly that painting needed to break free of old methods and adapt to the modern world.
    Cassatt found the answer to her demand for a new kind of painting in the work of the Impressionists, a small circle of independent French artists. She approved of their disdain for juried exhibitions and soon adopted their experimental techniques and their preference for images of contemporary life. In 1877 Edgar Degas invited her to show her work with the group. Cassatt thus became one of only three women, and the only American, ever to join the French Impressionists.

    In the Loge was the first of Cassatt’s Impressionist paintings to be displayed in the United States. When it was shown in Boston in 1878, critics described the picture as “striking,” adding that Cassatt’s painting “surpassed the strength of most men.” [1]The canvas, then entitled At the Français—A Sketch, depicts a fashionable lady dressed for an afternoon performance at the Comedie Français, a theater in Paris. Entertainments like the theater, the opera, and the racetrack were extremely popular among Parisians, who enjoyed such diversions not only for the show, but also for the opportunity to see—and to be seen by—their peers. The Impressionists took delight in painting these spectacles of modern life, and the theater, with its dazzling variety of lights and reflections, was an especially appealing subject. Many male artists, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Degas, had painted beautiful women in theater boxes, where they appeared as if they were on display in a gilded frame. Cassatt gave her female figure a noticeably more dynamic role, for she peers avidly through her opera glasses at the row of seats across from her. In the background at upper left, a man trains his gaze upon her. The viewer, who sees them both, completes the circle. Cassatt’s painting explores the very act of looking, breaking down the traditional boundaries between the observer and the observed, the audience and the performer.

    Notes
    1. “The M.C.M.A. [Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association] Exhibition,” Daily Evening Transcript (Boston), September 3, 1878, 4.

    This text was adapted from Elliot Bostwick Davis et al., American Painting [http://www.mfashop.com/9020398034.html], MFA Highlights (Boston: MFA Publications, 2003).

    Details

    Dimensions

    81.28 x 66.04 cm (32 x 26 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    10.35

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    Americas

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  • The River Loing at Gréz, France

    1890

    Frederic Porter Vinton (American, 1846–1911 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    65.4 x 81.28 cm (25 3/4 x 32 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    11.1388

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    Americas

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  • La Blanchisseuse

    1890

    Frederic Porter Vinton (American, 1846–1911 American)

    Description

    In June 1889, Vinton and his wife traveled to Europe for eighteen months, spending part of their sojourn in Grez-sur-Loing, a village on the southeastern edge of the forest of Fontainebleau, about two hours by train from Paris. Artists had been drawn to this rural village by the picturesque Loing River, stone bridge, and medieval church, and an international art colony arose there after 1875.
    During this trip to France, Vinton visited the French Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley in nearby Moret, and the two artists walked along the Loing River [1993.44], which Sisley had so often portrayed. Further down that same river, Vinton executed this plein air painting of a woman washing clothes. Images of laundresses are abundant; they were popular especially with such French artists as Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard in the eighteenth century and Edgar Degas in the nineteenth century. Although washerwomen were sometimes represented as seductresses, Vinton’s hard-working blanchisseuse, with her tub and the wooden box in which she kneels to keep her own clothes dry, provided an interesting subject for his new-found skill in Impressionist effects. With fluid brushstrokes, Vinton rendered the foliage of the trees and the reflections in the river. Dazzling daubs of white paint indicate white laundry and the sun dappling the river’s edge. Vinton seems to have painted La Blanchisseuse for his own pleasure; it remained with him and was never exhibited until his death.

    This text was adapted from Janet L. Comey’s entry in Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting, by Erica E. Hirshler et al., exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005).

    Details

    Dimensions

    46.35 x 60.96 cm (18 1/4 x 24 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    13.554

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  • Early Morning

    about 1899

    Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862–1951)

    Description

    Benson's lifelong love of birds and his appreciation of Japanese design, fashionable in Paris and in Boston as well, are readily apparent in "Early Morning." Benson had explored the abundant bird life in the marshes near his childhood home in Salem and early on had even aspired to ornithological illustration. His first known oil paintings are still lifes of birds. Later, flying birds silhouetted against the sky became a favorite subject for Benson, just as they were popular motifs in the Japanese art Benson admired, especially when depicted in juxtaposition against the still features of a landscape. "Early Morning" bears a striking similarity to an eighteenth-century Japanese screen entitled "Geese Flying over a Beach" (Freer Gallery of Art) by Maruyama Okyo, and it is possible Benson saw that screen at the importer Bunkyo Matsuki's shop in Boston or the Matsuki home in Salem before it was purchased by Charles Freer in 1898. The decorative nature of "Early Morning" is enhanced by Benson's choice of a long, horizontal canvas. When the painting was exhibited in New York in 1900, the "New York Times" critic singled it out for praise, finding it "especially good…with the ducks in flight and the gray expanse of marsh and sky rose-flushed in the east with the dawn."

    This text was adapted by Janet Comey from Erica Hirshler, "Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting," exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, 2005.

    Details

    Dimensions

    61.28 x 152.72 cm (24 1/8 x 60 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    13.2908

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  • The Lady of the Gorge

    1912

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    56.2 x 60.96 cm (22 1/8 x 24 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    19.1324

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  • At the Seaside

    about 1905

    Edward Henry Potthast (American, 1857–1927 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    31.11 x 40.64 cm (12 1/4 x 16 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    23.497

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  • Snow Scene

    about 1889

    Theodore M. Wendel (American, 1859–1932 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    31.75 x 39.37 cm (12 1/2 x 15 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Pastel and graphite on paperboard

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    23.556

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  • Head of a Young Girl

    about 1874

    Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    32.38 x 23.49 cm (12 3/4 x 9 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    27.497

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  • Salmon Fishing

    1927

    Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862–1951)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    91.76 x 112.08 cm (36 1/8 x 44 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    27.574

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  • Boston Common at Twilight

    1885–86

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description

    Childe Hassam, the son of a Dorchester hardware merchant, had made only one trip to Europe before painting Boston Common at Twilight. He studied French art in Boston collections, and he was familiar with the popular work of painters active in Paris, like Jean Béraud and Giuseppe de Nittis, who took modern life as their main subject and frequently depicted fashionable young women in urban settings. Hassam adapted their French aesthetic to his native city and began a series of large canvases representing several of Boston’s developing neighborhoods: Back Bay, the South End, and Park Square.
    Originally an open field for cattle grazing and military parades, the Boston Common had been transformed into an oasis of elm trees and graceful promenades by the time Hassam painted it in the mid-1880s. He chose a view of the Tremont Street Mall, one of five broad tree-lined walkways that provided Boston pedestrians with an elegant alternative to the city’s noisy thoroughfares. The artist doubtless enjoyed it himself, for his studio was just across the street.

    Despite the old-fashioned charm Boston Common at Twilight presents to viewers today, in Hassam’s time this scene was distinctly modern. Once an area of elegant residential row houses, many of the streets around the Boston Common recently had been transformed into a lively business district. The red brick buildings visible at left were mostly new; the traffic of trolley cars and carriages on the road marks the bustling commerce of late afternoon; and artificial light glows from streetlights and storefronts. Hassam enhanced his impression of the fast pace of city life by using a perspective scheme in which the vertical lines of the fence, the lampposts, and the trees recede rapidly into the distance, coming closer and closer together.

    Hassam contrasted the hurried movement at left with the calm quiet of the snowy park. A stylishly dressed young mother and her child pause to feed the birds while other figures stroll through the rosy dusk. Hassam used a variety of reds to unify his composition, bringing the rusty brick buildings, the glow of the lamps, and even the brilliant end of a lit cigarette in the hand of a passerby into harmony with the sunset sky and the pinkish snow. The artist’s interest in contemporary subjects and in different kinds of light allies this painting with Impressionism, but in Hassam’s gentle vision of the city, nature humanizes the modern world.

    This text was adapted from Elliot Bostwick Davis et al., American Painting [http://www.mfashop.com/9020398034.html], MFA Highlights (Boston: MFA Publications, 2003).

    Details

    Dimensions

    106.68 x 152.4 cm (42 x 60 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    31.952

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    Americas

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  • Study for The Banjo

    about 1894

    Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    43.81 x 43.5 cm (17 1/4 x 17 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Pastel on paper mounted on paperboard

    Classification

    Pastels

    Accession Number

    32.98

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    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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  • Edith, Lady Playfair (Edith Russell)

    1884

    John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    152.08 x 98.42 cm (59 7/8 x 38 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    33.530

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    Americas

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  • Fishing for Oysters at Cancale

    1878

    John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925)

    Description

    In 1877 the twenty-one year old Sargent spent the summer in Cancale on the coast of Brittany sketching fisherfolk. He sent his first completed painting, "Fishing for Oysters at Cancale," a finished sketch, to New York for display at the newly-formed, avant garde Society of American Artists from March 6 to April 5, 1878. Sargent submitted the second painting, "Oyster Gatherers of Cancale" (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), a larger, more finished version of the same subject, to the 1878 Paris Salon, where it was awarded an Honorable Mention. Critics praised "Fishing for Oysters at Cancale," the first Sargent painting to be exhibited in America, for its silvery hue and almost palpable marine atmosphere. Samuel Colman, a landscape painter twenty-fours years Sargent's senior, bought it for $200 as a standard to emulate. Sargent's choice of subject was not revolutionary - a similar scene of oyster harvesters had previously won a medal at the Salon. However, his ability to paint the reflections in the tidal pools and the light sparkling on the figures and clouds dazzled viewers, clearly demonstrating that his talents extended beyond portraiture.

    This text was adapted from an entry by Janet Comey in Erica Hirshler, "Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting," exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, 2005.

    Details

    Dimensions

    40.96 x 60.96 cm (16 1/8 x 24 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    35.708

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    Americas

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  • Pintails Decoyed

    1921

    Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862–1951)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    91.76 x 112.08 cm (36 1/8 x 44 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    35.1230

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  • L'Edition de Luxe

    1910

    Lilian Westcott Hale (American, 1880–1963)

    Description

    Women artists found Boston to be a particularly supportive environment for their professional activities. Lilian Westcott came to the city from Hartford, Connecticut, with a scholarship to study painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She worked with Edmund Tarbell [09.209] for two years, but left the program when she married Philip Hale [1996.332], a professor of drawing there. He supported her career even after their daughter Nancy was born in 1908, and Lilian Westcott Hale became an integral part of Boston’s closely knit community of like-minded artists. Many of them were women; one of Lilian Hale’s best friends was another woman painter—her sister-in-law, Philip Hale’s older sister, Ellen Day Hale [1986.645].

    Lilian Hale’s ethereal images of contemplative women in interiors won her much critical and popular acclaim during her lifetime, and collectors sought them avidly. She staged her compositions with models in her studio, sometimes creating both charcoal and oil versions of the same theme. A related and highly finished charcoal drawing entitled Spring Morning [65.1336], dated 1908, employs a composition similar to this one, but it substitutes a bowl of daffodils for the branch of cherry blossoms seen here.

    In L’Edition de Luxe Hale posed her favorite model, Rose Zeffler (called Zeffy), with a book in front of a window and allowed soft light, filtered by curtains, to bathe the scene in a rosy glow. These pink tones echo in the delicate flowers, the polished table, and Zeffy’s coppery hair. Carefully balanced and exquisitely rendered, the whole composition is an “edition de luxe,” just like the luxurious volume the young woman holds and to which the painting’s title refers. The composition reflects Hale’s belief in the importance of beauty and craftsmanship. Her traditional artistic ideals, however, did not prevent her from pursuing an active and successful professional career. Hale’s images of quiet women earned her national recognition.

    This text was adapted from Elliot Bostwick Davis et al., American Painting [http://www.mfashop.com/9020398034.html], MFA Highlights (Boston: MFA Publications, 2003).

    Details

    Dimensions

    58.42 x 38.42 cm (23 x 15 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    35.1487

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    Americas

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  • Long Branch, New Jersey

    1869

    Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    40.64 x 55.24 cm (16 x 21 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    41.631

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    Americas

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  • The Tea

    about 1880

    Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)

    Description

    Cassatt’s paintings often document the social interactions of well-to-do women like herself. The activities they depict—tea drinking, going to the theatre, tending children—fall within the normal routine for Cassatt’s sex and class. Yet the painter’s insistence upon representing such episodes from the modern world (even a sheltered segment of it), her dislike for narrative, and her devotion to surface arrangement and color, all evident in The Tea, mark Cassatt’s dedication to the most advanced artistic principles of her day. In 1877 Cassatt had been invited by Edgar Degas to join a group of independent artists, later known as the Impressionists. “I accepted with joy,” she later recalled. “I hated conventional art.” [1]She was one of just a few women, and the only American, to exhibit with the group.

    In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Cassatt made a number of images that show women participating in the domestic and social ritual of drinking tea. Among these works are two related oils, The Cup of Tea (about 1880–81) and Lady at the Tea Table (1883–85), both in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and a number of prints, among them the MFA’s Tea [M25007] and Afternoon Tea Party [41.811]. Cassatt’s painting The Tea is set in a contemporary drawing room, sometimes described as Cassatt’s own. The fine striped wallpaper and carved marble fireplace, ornamented with an elaborately framed painting and a porcelain jar, are typical of an upper-middle class Parisian interior, and the antique silver tea service on the foreground table implies a distinguished family history. The two women play the traditional roles of hostess and guest, although it appears that their conversation has lapsed: the hostess (on the left, in a simple brown day dress) rests her hand on her chin while her guest (wearing the hat, scarf, and gloves that indicate she has stepped in from outside) sips her tea. The hostess is often identified as Cassatt’s sister Lydia and the guest as a family friend, but it is equally likely the women were Cassatt’s usual models, one brunette and one blonde; the women appear in several of Cassatt’s contemporary scenes of women at the opera.

    Despite these conservative and tasteful surroundings, Cassatt’s painting is a declaration of modernity that demonstrates her rejection of several traditional artistic conventions. First, Cassatt denies the human form its usual compositional primacy: the tea service seems larger in scale than the women themselves. This pictorial conceit of giving inanimate objects equal priority with figures was sometimes employed by Cassatt’s friend Degas. Cassatt further defies custom by obscuring the face of her subject, rendering the guest in the transitory act of drinking. The guest’s pose is a momentary one, for she will soon lift the delicate cup from her lips and replace it on the saucer she balances in her left hand. By selecting the only point in the action when her subject’s face is almost completely hidden by the teacup, Cassatt reiterates her modernist creed that her painting is not only about representing likeness, but also about design and color. She uses the oval shapes of cups and saucers, trays, hats, and faces as repetitive patterns, offsetting the strict graphic geometry of the gray and rose striped wallpaper.

    Cassatt’s concentration upon the formal elements of her composition earned her disapproval from contemporary critics when the painting was first shown in Paris during the fifth Impressionist exhibition of 1880. Paul Mantz, generally a conservative writer, called it “poorly drawn” and commented upon the “wretched sugar bowl [which] remains floating in the air like a dream,”[2] while Philippe Burty, a respected critic who often supported the Impressionists, regretted her “partially completed image[s].” [3]Responding perhaps both to the custom of tea drinking and to the proper, bourgeois interior represented here, the sympathetic commentator J.-K. Huysmans wrote, “Miss Cassatt is evidently also a pupil of English painters” and concluded that The Tea was an “excellent canvas.”[4]

    Cassatt’s painting was quickly purchased by the great French art collector Henri Rouart, who hung it in a small salon in his home, not far from a pastel of women at a milliner’s shop made by their mutual friend Degas (At the Milliner’s, 1882, MuseoThyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid). After Rouart’s death in 1912, his collection was dispersed at auction in Paris; another important connoisseur, Dikran Kelekian, an internationally renowned dealer in near eastern antiquities and a staunch supporter of modern French art, acquired The Tea soon thereafter. The silver tea service Cassatt depicted was part of a family set made in Philadelphia about 1813, of which six pieces (but not the tray) are now in the MFA’s collection [http://www.mfa.org/search/collections?credit_line=Anonymous%20gift%20in%20honor%20of%20Eugenia%20Cassatt%20Madeira].

    Notes
    1. Achille Segard, Mary Cassatt: Un peintre des enfants et des mères (Paris: Librairie Paul Ollendorff,1913), 8.
    2. Paul Mantz, “Exposition des Oeuvres des Artistes Indépendants,” Le Temps, April 14, 1880,
    3. Philippe Burty, “Exposition des Oeuvres des Artistes Indépendants,” La République Française, April 10, 1880, 2.
    4. Joris-Karl Huysmans, “L’exposition des Indépendants en 1880,” in L’art moderne (Paris, 1883), 110.

    Erica E. Hirshler

    Details

    Dimensions

    64.77 x 92.07 cm (25 1/2 x 36 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

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    Accession Number

    42.178

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  • Mrs. Duffee Seated on a Striped Sofa, Reading

    1876

    Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)

    Description

    Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Cassatt settled in Paris in 1875 and became the only American invited to exhibit with the Impressionist group. Like her friend Edgar Degas, she was a figure painter, attracted to intimate views of modern life. Cassatt focused on depicting the domestic and social lives of upper-class women, showing them drinking tea, attending the opera, crocheting, or reading.

    Details

    Dimensions

    34.29 x 26.67 cm (13 1/2 x 10 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.523

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  • Copley Square, Boston

    about 1908

    Arthur Clifton Goodwin (American, 1864–1929)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    76.83 x 91.76 cm (30 1/4 x 36 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.550

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  • Park Street, Boston

    about 1908

    Arthur Clifton Goodwin (American, 1864–1929)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    48.58 x 66.04 cm (19 1/8 x 26 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.551

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  • The Barnstormer, Old South Theater, Boston

    1918

    Arthur Clifton Goodwin (American, 1864–1929)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    31.75 x 38.1 cm (12 1/2 x 15 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on paperboard

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.554

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  • Custom House Tower from the Public Garden, Boston

    about 1914

    Arthur Clifton Goodwin (American, 1864–1929)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    42.86 x 53.02 cm (16 7/8 x 20 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Pastel on paperboard

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.556

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  • Flowers in a Blue Vase

    about 1910–13

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    48.58 x 40.64 cm (19 1/8 x 16 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.589

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  • Girls in Sunlight

    1895

    Philip Leslie Hale (American, 1865–1931)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    73.66 x 99.06 cm (29 x 39 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    53.2209

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  • Eight Bathers

    about 1918–23

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description

    Throughout his career, Prendergast painted idyllic scenes of ordinary people enjoying themselves in parks, boulevards, and ocean resorts. He became aware of contemporary art movements during six sojourns in Europe, and was one of the most avant-garde painters working in America during the early 1900s. In this tapestry-like late oil, Prendergast painted a timeless Arcadian vision with a modernist vocabulary - simplified, outlined figures, visible brushstrokes, and flat, bold patterning.

    Details

    Dimensions

    71.12 x 61.59 cm (28 x 24 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    61.663

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  • Race Track

    about 1895–97

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description

    Maurice Prendergast painted "Racetrack" in Boston shortly after returning from almost four years in France, where he studied at the Académie Julian and tirelessly sketched scenes of Parisian life. Having observed Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pictures of Parisians promenading in parks, at the racetrack, and on the beach, Prendergast painted similar idyllic scenes in the Boston area. In "Race Track" he rendered both adults and children enjoying leisure time at a sporting event held in a large park. This is probably Franklin Park, laid out in the 1880s by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead as part of Boston's Emerald Necklace (a series of interconnected parks ringing the city). Instead of showing the excitement of the race itself, Prendergast portrayed the audience-on holiday and dressed in their Sunday clothes-between races. The artist delighted in painting white, pink, and gray dresses against the grid created by the fence and chairs. He punctuated the overall pattern of the painting with red-orange parasols, flags, and wagon wheels, giving the scene a festive air. A master watercolorist, Prendergast here treated oil paint as if it were watercolor, indicating white areas by leaving the canvas bare and using thin washes of pigment. The result is a cheerful exposition of urban middle-class recreation expressed through bold color and inventive composition.

    This text was adapted from Carol Troyen and Janet Comey, "Children in American Art" (Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 2007, in Japanese).

    Details

    Dimensions

    58.42 x 52.7 cm (23 x 20 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil and graphite on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    62.321

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  • Bathing Pool, Appledore

    1907

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description

    From 1886 to 1916, Hassam made regular summer visits to Appledore, the largest of nine rugged islands that make up the Isles of Shoals about ten miles off the coast of New Hampshire. Drawn to the island by its natural beauty and leisure activities, Hassam was also attracted by the salon and garden of the poet and writer Celia Laighton Thaxter, whose family owned the resort hotel and who welcomed writers, musicians, and artists to the flower-filled parlor of her cottage. Hassam's illustrations of Thaxter's garden adorn her book "An Island Garden," published in 1894 just before her death. Hassam had built a studio home on Appledore and continued to visit after Thaxter's death, although he no longer painted its lush floral landscapes, concentrating instead on images of rocks and sea. In "Bathing Pool, Appledore" he depicted the resort life of the island in the foreground, including swimmers in the pool area in front of colorful bathhouses and strollers in the midday sunshine. Beyond the vacationers stretches a benign sea studded with the domical Babb's Rock and other granite outcroppings, skillfully conveyed by the artist using an elevated viewpoint, active brush work, and a light, bright palette.

    This text was adapted by Janet Comey from Erica Hirshler, "Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting," exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, 2005.

    Details

    Dimensions

    63.18 x 75.56 cm (24 7/8 x 29 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    64.982

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  • Grand Prix Day

    1887

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description

    Hassam altered his style in 1887 when he painted Grand Prix Day in light colors that captured the effect of a bright sunny day, rather than using the darker, more tonal palette [31.952] he had previously preferred. He depicted the parade of fashionably dressed Parisians on their way to Longchamp in the Bois de Boulogne for the Grand Prix, an important horse race held annually in June. Hassam exhibited a second, larger version, entitled Le Jour du Grand Prix (New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut), at the Salon of 1888. He described the picture to fellow artist Rose Lamb: “I am painting sunlight. . . a ‘four in hand’ and the crowds of fiacres filled with the well dressed women who go to the ‘Grand Prix.’” [1]
    Grand Prix Day probably portrays the chestnut-tree-lined avenue Bois de Boulogne (now avenue Foch), with the Arc de Triomphe partially visible to the left. The painting demonstrates Hassam’s adaptation of Claude Monet’s [21.1331] color and brush strokes and the compositional devices of cropping and an empty foreground often utilized by Edgar Degas [39.669] and GustaveCaillebotte [2011.231] to provide a glimpse of modern Parisian life (Degas had painted the racehorses at Longchamp [03.1034] himself some sixteen years earlier). However, Hassam’s more restrained form of Impressionism, influenced by the work of an international group of artists who recorded Paris—including Giuseppe de Nittis, Jean Béraud, and Félix Buhot [M15710]—is evident in the solidity and detail of the horses, carriages, and figures.

    Notes
    1. Childe Hassam to Rose Lamb, November 29, 1887, curatorial files, Department of Art of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

    This text was adapted from Janet L. Comey’s entry in Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting, by Erica E. Hirshler et al., exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005).

    Details

    Dimensions

    61.28 x 78.74 cm (24 1/8 x 31 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    64.983

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  • Still Life

    about 1910–13

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description

    One of America's early modernists, Prendergast painted some fifteen innovative fruit still lifes, probably between 1910 and 1913. Prendergast rarely exhibited or sold his still lifes, and they are difficult to date. The only one of his fruit pieces which can be securely dated is "Apples and a Pear on the Grass" (1912, Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art), which Prendergast painted on a visit with the American artist William Glackens [59.658] and his wife. He also completed about fifteen flower pieces during this period [see "Flowers in a Blue Vase," 48.589].

    Prendergast seems to have painted these still lifes as a way to come to terms with the work of Paul Cézanne, whose pictures he had studied on a trip to Paris in 1907. At the time, Paris was full of avant-garde artists, but Prendergast wrote, "I think Cézanne will influence me more than the others... He left everything to the imagination. [His paintings] are great for their symplicity [sic] and suggestive qualities," (quoted in Nancy Mowll Mathews, "Maurice Prendergast," Williamstown, Mass. and Munich: Williams College and Prestel-Verlag, 1990, p. 25). All of Prendergast's fruit pieces include apples, which were also prominently featured by Cézanne. Like the French artist, Prendergast modeled these round forms by using patches of color rather than shaded tones, and he outlined the objects in dark pigment to differentiate them from the background. The slight tilt of the tabletop and the white napkin under the fruit in "Still Life" also recall Cézanne's work. Yet Prendergast did not slavishly copy the older artist. He incorporated Cézanne's ideas into his own mature style, which because of its decorative qualities, has variously been described as comparable to mosaics, tapestries, or brocades. Prendergast's brush strokes, evenly distributed and each equally vigorous, create an overall pattern in his paintings.

    The MFA's canvas differs from Prendergast's other still lifes; here he included more high-style objects, like the silver urn, the porcelain tea pot, cup, and saucer. While Prendergast dispensed with traditional illusionistic devices such as shadows and shading, he did include reflections on the silver urn, simplifying them into patches of color that correspond to nearby objects. Another unusual feature is the compote, which is repeated in the background as if it stood before a mirror, but the reflection does not replicate exactly what appears on the table. Such a ghost image also appears in Prendergast's "Cinerarias and Fruit" (about 1910-1913, Whitney Museum of American Art). Prendergast's "Still Life," with its rich surface texture, dynamic composition, and dazzling colors, communicates a vital energy rare in this genre of painting.

    When Prendergast died in 1924, he left "Still Life" (along with the rest of his estate) to his brother Charles, also an artist [see "Flowers," 48.840]. Charles's widow, Eugénie Prendergast, gave "Still Life," as well as "Portrait of Maurice Prendergast's Father" [69.1262], and "Woman in Brown Coat" [68.585] to the MFA, thereby ensuring that the Museum's collection would include the full range of the painter's work.

    Janet Comey

    Details

    Dimensions

    48.89 x 53.66 cm (19 1/4 x 21 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1970.1

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  • Caresse Maternelle

    about 1902

    Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)

    Description

    Though born and trained in the United States, Cassatt lived nearly her whole life in France. She was the only American, and one of only three women, to exhibit with the Impressionist group; by 1894 she had sold enough work to be able to purchase a château in Mesnil-Théribus (about ninety kilometers northwest of Paris), where she lived and worked for much of the year.
    It was at her château that she painted "Caresse Maternelle." Best known for her images of mothers and children, Cassatt was likely inspired to explore this theme by her many nieces and nephews, whom she adored, as well as by images of the Madonna and Child from the Italian Renaissance. Her interest in the subject also reflects the late nineteenth-century fascination with maternity and the new emphasis on child care.
    In "Caresse Maternelle," Cassatt's models are tightly entwined, and their poses seem entirely natural. In what seems to be a spontaneous expression of affection, the little girl kneels in the mother's lap and hugs her around her neck. Their cheek-to-cheek embrace completes the image of tender intimacy. Cassatt used long brushstrokes to render the dresses of mother and daughter, and the softness of the fabric augments the sweet feminine atmosphere. Although Cassatt was never married and had no children of her own, she had a remarkable ability to portray the special love between mother and child.

    This text was adapted from Carol Troyen and Janet Comey, "Children in American Art" (Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 2007, in Japanese).

    Details

    Dimensions

    92.07 x 73.34 cm (36 1/4 x 28 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1970.252

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  • The Pretty Ships

    about 1895–97

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    34.92 x 34.29 cm (13 3/4 x 13 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1971.708

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  • Charles River and Beacon Hill

    about 1892

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description

    In Charles River and Beacon Hill Hassam employed the radical compositional effects that he had seen in French painting to portray changing aspects of Boston. Like GustaveCaillebotte [2011.231] and other French Impressionists, Hassam used dramatically plunging recession and a broad expanse of empty foreground to draw the viewer into his cityscape, which includes three of Boston’s important topographical features. On the left is the Charles River, which divides the city from Cambridge; in the center is Beacon Hill, settled in the eighteenth century and the site of the gold-domed Massachusetts State House; and on the right is the Back Bay, a fashionable residential area that had recently been created after a forty-year landfill project. As Hassam was no doubt aware, there had been much discussion in Boston as to how to take best advantage of the Charles River. Hassam showed the dirt road and narrow walkway along the embankment, and he drew attention to the river via the boat landing and the blue-coated man at the railing smoking his pipe. Shortly thereafter, the scene was altered when a 100-foot-wide (30.5-meter-wide) concrete promenade was constructed beyond the sea wall. Here Hassam captured the city of his youth as it was transforming itself into a sophisticated urban center.

    This text was adapted from Janet L. Comey’s entry in Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting, by Erica E. Hirshler et al., exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005).

    Details

    Dimensions

    40.96 x 45.72 cm (16 1/8 x 18 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1978.178

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  • Bridge at Ipswich

    about 1905

    Theodore M. Wendel (American, 1859–1932 American)

    Description

    In 1898, Theodore Wendel moved to his wife's large family farm in Ipswich, Massachusetts, a rural, seaside town north of Boston. For the next fifteen years, he portrayed this typical New England village with the Impressionist color and broken brush strokes he had learned from Monet at Giverny in 1886. Like many other Impressionists, he chose a bridge as the focus for his painting - the handsome granite, twin-arched Green Street Bridge, built in 1894 over the Ipswich River. Wendel's canvas differs from French Impressionist paintings in its clarity and solidity, since American artists tended to use light and color to define forms rather than to dissolve them. However, Wendel was very much like his French counterparts in his use of compositional devices borrowed from Japanese aesthetics. He employed a high horizon line, diagonals that divide the composition, truncated forms, the juxtaposition of architectonic manmade structures with soft natural growth, and enlivening red color notes in his painting. The resulting arrangement is flattened and compressed, and the surface pattern is as interesting and important as the subject matter.

    This text was adapted from an entry by Janet Comey in Erica Hirshler, "Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting," exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, 2005.

    Details

    Dimensions

    61.59 x 76.2 cm (24 1/4 x 30 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1978.179

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  • Old Fairbanks House, Dedham, Massachusetts

    about 1884

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description

    Hassam’s paintings reflect his fascination with French art, his intense nationalistic pride, and his desire to paint characteristically American subjects. Old Fairbanks House provides an early example of these concerns. Hassam’s painting, with its subdued colors and rural subject, reflects the interest of Boston artists and collectors in the Barbizon school. They had first become acquainted with works by French Barbizon artists Jean-François Millet [17.1508] and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot [90.199] in the 1850s, when influential artist, teacher, and collector William Morris Hunt introduced the American public to their works. Beginning in 1882, Hassam applied this aesthetic to his New England landscapes, painting pastoral works with such titles as Shelling Peas and Sheep Pasture and exhibiting them at Boston venues.
    Hassam’s father collected Americana and antique furniture, but the artist’s preoccupation with his Puritan roots and his interest in historic New England structures like the Fairbanks House had probably begun during his early tenure as an illustrator of architectural designs for wood engraver John Lowell. Concurrently, a nationwide preoccupation with the country’s past bloomed at the close of the Civil War and intensified during the centennial celebrations in 1876. These led to the Colonial Revival movement and to an enthusiasm for architectural preservation, particularly of important landmarks in and around Boston.[1] Hassam and many of his fellow artists shared these sentiments and responded to the public’s new-found interest by painting the characteristically American architecture they saw in picturesque towns throughout New England.

    Considered by many to be the oldest timber-frame house in America, the Fairbanks House had long been a symbol of American colonial history. Early Dedham resident Jonathan Fairbanks built the house around 1636 and his descendants continued living there until after 1900. The Fairbanks family made few if any changes to it: one 1897 guidebook author noted that an Indian arrow had projected from its roof for as long as anyone could remember.[2] Hassam most likely was not alone when he sketched and painted the house in 1884; by that time it had appeared in countless guidebooks and, by 1894, would become so overrun with artists that its resident, Miss Fairbanks, could hardly keep “the dooryard clear of these budding Raphaels.” [3]Ever conscious of his reputation as an artist, Hassam would have recognized that a painting of the Fairbanks House—a well-known symbol of America’s colonial past—would have commercial appeal for a discerning audience intent on preserving the country’s architectural history.

    In Hassam’s composition, a young woman dressed in brown carries a bucket up a grassy hill framed by ancient elm trees. For Hassam, she serves as a more gentrified (and apolitical) New England version of Millet’s heroic peasants. She may also be related to female figures in landscapes by Winslow Homer, who made the nineteenth-century American countryside his signature subject during the 1870s and whose rural scenes, like The Dinner Horn [1982.639], appeared frequently in Boston exhibitions during the 1880s. Homer’s A Temperance Meeting (1874, Philadelphia Museum of Art) similarly represents a woman carrying a bucket in a rural setting and also depicts a large structure from a low foreground vantage point, but Hassam omits Homer’s narrative in favor of creating a timeless portrait of a specific historic icon.

    Old Fairbanks House represents a development in Hassam’s career as a colorist and illustrates a transition from the dark palette of the Barbizon artists toward a more Impressionist application of paint. He abandoned the subtle tones of his earlier paintings in favor of sharp greens in the grass, strong browns for the dress, and bright sunlight that silhouettes the woman and the house. When Hassam exhibited the painting prior to his March 1887 auction at Boston’s Noyes, Cobb, & Company, a critic called the work “poetic” and praised the “just relation between the black house and the vivid sky.”[4]

    Hassam’s painting came into the MFA collection as a gift in 1982. The donor’s grandfather acquired it from an elderly Cape Cod resident, who found the painting in an attic. The family had discarded Hassam’s original frame at some point, but MFA curators and conservators have since reframed the painting with a design consistent with Hassam’s work.

    Notes
    1. Erica E. Hirshler, “Hassam and American Architecture,” in Childe Hassam, American Impressionist, by H. Barbara Weinberg et al., exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004), 295–96.
    2. Edwin M. Bacon, Walks and Rides in the Country Round About Boston (Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside Press, 1897), 395.
    3. Hirshler, “Hassam and American Architecture,” 296.
    4. “Childe Hassam’s Work at Noyes & Cobb’s,” Boston Transcript, [March 1887].

    Victoria Ross

    Details

    Dimensions

    56.2 x 55.88 cm (22 1/8 x 22 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on paper mounted on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1982.386

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  • Ellen Mary in a White Coat

    about 1896

    Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)

    Description

    Mary Cassatt is especially admired for her domestic scenes—of women reading, knitting, taking tea, and caring for their children. Born in western Pennsylvania to a wealthy family, she trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then traveled in Europe before settling in Paris in 1874. Encouraged by her friend and mentor Edgar Degas, she became a member of the Impressionist circle, exhibiting with them in 1879, 1880, 1881, and 1886—Cassatt was the only American to exhibit with this group. She lived for the rest of her life in France, initially in Paris and then in nearby Mesnil-Théribus, where she owned a château.
    Ellen Mary, the second child of Cassatt’s youngest brother Gardner, was about two years old when the artist painted this portrait, the first of many that Cassatt would make throughout her niece’s childhood. Cassatt probably painted this likeness when her brother and his family were visiting her at Beaufresne, her château, in 1896.

    Ellen Mary in a White Coat is a tour de force of compositional invention and psychological insight. Ellen Mary is encased in a luxurious, bulky hat and coat that become the key structural elements of the composition. The curved line formed by the fur trim of the coat and hat contrast with the rectangles of the yellow chair and background panels. Ellen Mary is pushed forward and fills the picture space, seeming at once immediate and monumental. Despite the fact that only Ellen Mary’s tiny face, hands, and summarily sketched feet are visible, Cassatt has managed to indicate the child’s personality and mood. Although the costume and setting that envelop her were designed as much to indicate her family’s wealth as to provide for her comfort, Ellen Mary is able to assert her individuality. Serious beyond her years, Ellen Mary seems to know that sitting for a portrait is important, although not much fun for a two-year-old.

    Cassatt painted Ellen Mary in a White Coat when she was at the height of her powers. She had studied Spanish painting, especially Velázquez’s pictures of children of the royal Spanish family—like Ellen Mary, small children trapped in elaborate costumes. She was a friend of Edgar Degas and had seen firsthand his manipulation of space and his ability to use the background of a portrait [31.33] to comment on the sitter. In addition, the flat patterns in this painting reflect Cassatt’s interest in Japanese woodblock prints, which she had enthusiastically collected and studied. Having absorbed these various influences, she applied her own sensitive appreciation of childhood to create a perceptive and unsentimental portrait of her niece. Aunt and niece grew especially close, and when Cassatt died, she left Beaufresne to Ellen Mary.

    This text was adapted from Carol Troyen and Janet L. Comey, Amerikakaigakodomo no sekai [Children in American art], exh. cat. (Nagoya, Japan: Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 2007).

    Details

    Dimensions

    81.28 x 60.32 cm (32 x 23 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1982.630

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    Americas

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  • Boats at T Wharf

    about 1915

    Arthur Clifton Goodwin (American, 1864–1929)

    Description

    When Goodwin completed this canvas in about 1915, T wharf in Boston harbor was one of the largest fish piers in the world. T wharf, which acquired its name from its shape, was a frequent subject for the artist, who also painted views of Boston and New York in an impressionist style. Goodwin focused attention on the red fishing boat in the foreground and enlivened the scene by including working fishermen and a forest of masts.

    Details

    Dimensions

    40.96 x 51.12 cm (16 1/8 x 20 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1982.798

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    Americas

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  • Dartmouth Street from Copley Square

    about 1910–20

    Arthur Clifton Goodwin (American, 1864–1929)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    33.02 x 48.26 cm (13 x 19 in.)

    Medium

    Pastel on paper mounted on paperboard

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1984.915

    Collections

    Americas

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  • French Farmhouse

    about 1893

    Philip Leslie Hale (American, 1865–1931)

    Description

    During his six-year sojourn in Paris and Giverny, Hale was a keen observer of artistic trends. He reported on the Parisian art world in several articles in the Canadian journal Arcadia between 1891 and 1893 and became one of the few American artists to incorporate one of the new styles, Neo-Impressionism, also known as Divisionism or Pointillism, into his own work. Originating with Georges Seurat in the 1880s, this new way of painting strove for luminosity by applying separate flecks of pure color and allowing them to mix in the eye of the viewer. In his view of a French farmhouse, which resembles Claude Monet’s Giverny house with its pink walls and green shutters (but is more likely to be the nearby home of Hale’s friend Theodore Butler), Hale adapted Neo-Impressionism, defining forms with dabs of unmixed color and using thin vertical strokes of yellow pigment to show vibrating sunlight. He later exhorted his students, when painting outdoors in the sun, to bring “plenty of chrome yellow no. 1. It is well to anticipate the yellow fever.” [1]Hale’s tightly focused view, cropped vegetation and shutters, and sloping, empty foreground reflect his engagement with both Japanese design and photography. The composition is enlivened by the addition of a male figure, whose distinctive stance is reminiscent of a model’s pose for art students. Hale’s avant-garde paintings received a lukewarm response from critics in the United States, and he became more conservative after the turn of the century.

    Notes
    1. Erica E. Hirshler, “Artists’ Biographies,” in The Bostonians: Painters of an Elegant Age, 1870–1930, by Trevor J. Fairbrother et al., exh. cat. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1986), 211.

    This text was adapted from Janet L. Comey’s entry in Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting, by Erica E. Hirshler et al., exh.cat.(London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005).

    Details

    Dimensions

    64.77 x 81.28 cm (25 1/2 x 32 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1985.688

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  • Landscape

    about 1890

    Philip Leslie Hale (American, 1865–1931)

    Description

    Landscape is perhaps Philip Leslie Hale’s most progressive painting, reflecting his awareness of Monet’s move to more abstract subjects (in his series of poplar paintings, for instance) and of Les Nabis (the Prophets), an avant-garde French movement that sought to disavow academicism in favor of more decorative aspects of art. Led by Paul Sérusier [60.742], Maurice Denis [60.275], Pierre Bonnard [60.57], and Edouard Vuillard [48.612], Les Nabis experimented with simplified drawing, flat patches of color, and bold contours in the pursuit of decorative beauty rather than description. Both Monet and Les Nabis were influenced by Japanese aesthetics, which liberated the artist from a literal transcription of nature and emphasized simplified natural forms and the extraction of decorative patterns from nature.
    The lack of a central focus, bright colors, and loose brushwork of Landscape are reminiscent of Monet’s poplar paintings. Hale used yellow pigment to convey the effects of the midday sun, green for both the foliage of the trees and their shadows, and blue and lavender for the tree trunks. The influence of Les Nabis is apparent in the flatness of the design and the primacy of surface pattern. Hale employed bands of color in a decorative grid of rhythmic verticals and horizontals, relieved by the single tall tree in the left foreground. Hale’s inventive composition borders on abstraction and presages developments that would occur in Paris after the turn of the century. These experiments proceeded without Hale, however, who retreated toward more descriptive canvases after 1900.

    This text was adapted from Janet L. Comey’s entry in Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting, by Erica E. Hirshler et al., exh.cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005).

    Details

    Dimensions

    46.04 x 55.88 cm (18 1/8 x 22 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1985.689

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  • Calm Morning

    1904

    Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862–1951)

    Description

    In the late 1890s Benson began to paint outdoors and over the next two decades he produced many of his most popular plein air paintings, primarily of his family at play during idyllic summers. The setting is the island of North Haven, Maine; the family rented Wooster Farm there, beginning in 1901, and later purchased it. In Calm Morning Benson depicted his three oldest children fishing over the side of a dory—Eleanor, the eldest, to the left in the stern of the boat; Elisabeth to the right; and George standing. Benson’s bright, luminous colors and long varied brush strokes give the effect of warm sun shining on the children and the inside of the boat, contrasting with the cool, quiet ocean. He skillfully captured the reflections on the stern of the boat and the deep green color of the water in its shadow. Although Benson usually composed and painted a finished oil directly on the canvas, for Calm Morning he took a more academic approach, making three oil studies which he combined into this larger work. Benson was pleased with the result, declaring it his “best out of door work.”[1]

    Notes
    1. Frank W. Benson to James Gest, May 11, 1905, Benson file, Cincinnati Museum of Art, Ohio.

    This text was adapted from Janet L. Comey’s entry in Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting, by Erica E. Hirshler et al., exh.cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005).

    Details

    Dimensions

    112.71 x 91.76 cm (44 3/8 x 36 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1985.925

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    Americas

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  • Sunset

    about 1915–18

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description

    Although he exhibited with the Eight, Maurice Prendergast, along with Arthur Bowen Davies, preferred to depict the pleasant and carefree aspects of modern life. Born in Newfoundland and raised in Boston, Prendergast first traveled abroad in 1886 and later spent three years in Paris from 1891 to 1894. There he studied with Courtois at Atelier Colarossi before attending the life class at the Académie Julian. While in Paris he formed a close friendship with fellow Canadian painter James Morrice, who introduced him to a wide circle of artists and theorists. The experience was crucial and formative for Prendergast. He rapidly absorbed the innovations of contemporary French painting, especially the brushwork of Paul Cézanne and the colorful palette of Henri Matisse and the French Fauves, or Wild Beasts, as they were called by their critics.

    Prendergast renewed his intense interest in French painting after the turn of the century. He modified a decorative style inspired by the Post-Impressionists Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, who had earlier experimented with a technique of painting in small discrete strokes of color resembling a colorful mosaic or pattern of dots called pointillism. In "Sunset" Prendergast combines the vivid and opaque paints of the Fauves with a variety of short touches of color inspired by Signac, using them to render the textures of the costumes, trees, and sky.

    In contrast to the exuberant scenes of Americans at leisure that Prendergast had made at the turn of the century, "Sunset" belongs to a more static group of images produced late in his career. The silhouettes of figures, horses, and dogs arranged in a shallow foreground plane are reminiscent of ancient Egyptian or Assyrian reliefs. This elegiac scene of leisure also recalls the sense of longing and nostalgia evoked by the great bathers of Cézanne and Matisse. Painted during the turmoil of the Great War, "Sunset" suggests a fading era of innocence and carefree pursuits. Many of the grand resort hotels and amusement parks the artist had depicted in earlier paintings, drawings, and prints had by then fallen into ruin or been destroyed by fire and vandals. Although a sense of loss is evident in comparison to his previous images, Prendergast's bold technique and colorful palette in "Sunset" convey the intensity of his remembrance of times past.

    This text was adapted from Davis, et al., MFA Highlights: American Painting (Boston, 2003) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    53.34 x 81.28 cm (21 x 32 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1989.228

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    Americas

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  • Folly Cove

    about 1900

    Philip Leslie Hale (American, 1865–1931)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    22.54 x 29.84 cm (8 7/8 x 11 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas board

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1989.267

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Bathing, Marblehead

    1896–97

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 35.6 x 50.8 cm (14 x 20 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor and graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    27.215

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  • Handkerchief Point

    1896–97

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 50.5 x 34.3 cm (19 7/8 x 13 1/2 in.) Framed: 75.6 x 60.3 cm (29 3/4 x 23 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor and graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    31.906

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  • Canterbury

    1889

    Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    34.3 x 24.2 cm (13 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    33.526

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  • Currituck Marshes, North Carolina

    1926

    Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862–1951)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 48 x 67 cm (18 7/8 x 26 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    33.589

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  • Carnival, Franklin Park, Boston

    1897

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 34 x 37.5 cm (13 3/8 x 14 3/4 in.) Framed: 54 x 59.7 cm (21 1/4 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    35.1689

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  • A Garden Is a Sea of Flowers

    1912

    Ross Sterling Turner (American, 1847–1915)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 52.7 x 77.8cm (20 3/4 x 30 5/8in.) Framed: 84.8 x 108.9 cm (33 3/8 x 42 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Transparent and opaque watercolor on board

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    35.1690

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  • Long Beach

    1920–23

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sight: 39.4 x 57 cm (15 1/2 x 22 7/16 in.) Framed: 57.8 x 74.3 cm (22 3/4 x 29 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor, graphite pencil and ink on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    50.652

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  • Cape Ann

    1920–23

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 25.4 x 34.3 cm (10 x 13 1/2 in.) Framed: 51.1 x 57.5 cm (20 1/8 x 22 5/8 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor and graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    56.1188

    Collections

    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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