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Collection Tour

Art with a Past

  • The provenance–or history of ownership–of a work of art can be described as the journey it makes up to its arrival in its present home; in this case, the MFA, Boston. “Art with a Past: Provenance Research at the MFA” is an itinerary, or scavenger hunt, of the life stories of MFA masterpieces, many of which survived wars, passed through royal collections, were dismantled and reassembled, or found new uses in the hands of their different owners.

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  • A Pavane

    1897
    Edwin Austin Abbey (American, 1852–1911)

    Description

    Hired by his friend the architect Stanford White, Abbey painted A Pavane as an overmantel for the dining room of the prominent New York publisher and diplomat Whitelaw Reid. Reid’s elaborate apartment, the most luxurious in a suite called the Villard Houses (at 50th Street and Madison Avenue in New York City), had been built in the mid-1880s by the architectural firm McKim, Mead,& White, and several rooms were being renovated under White’s supervision. The dining room, some seventy feet (21.3 meters) long, was baronial in style; its Renaissance-inspired decorative scheme was well suited to the house’s palazzo-like exterior and to the social standing and ambition of both the apartment’s original owner, Henry Villard, and that of Reid. Abbey’s canvas was designed to fit over a dark pink marble fireplace and mantel designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens with his brother Louis; both men were sculptors and friends of White’s. Abbey was a key figure in a group of cosmopolitan artists that included not only White and the Saint-Gaudenses but also, among others, the Americans John Singer Sargent [link to ch. 8] and Francis Millet [1981.77] and the Anglo-Dutch painter Laurence Alma-Tadema [17.3239, 41.117]. Abbey was well known for his carefully detailed and romanticized historical scenes [2008.2]. By the time he began A Pavane, Abbey was also earning great praise as a decorative painter, acclaimed for his series of murals, The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail, for the Boston Public Library, a building that had also been designed by McKim, Mead, &White.
    Extensive correspondence documents the course of the Reid commission as Abbey sought, through White, to discern his client’s wishes and to determine the physical parameters for his work. The Reids hoped the painting would brighten a dark room and White had initially proposed a festive banqueting scene, but Abbey offered them an alternative: a display of dancers. By mid-December 1895, Whitelaw Reid told White that he and his wife Elisabeth Mills Reid had “been gradually absorbing the spirit of the two sketches, and trying to make up our minds … I like the idea of a dancing scene quite as well as I should that of a banquet … [and] having the rashness and self-confidence of my sex, I am inclined to believe [Mrs. Reid] will like it as well as I do when it is finished.” [1]

    Abbey’s final composition of dancing couples speaks to the room’s purpose as a place of entertainment and social interaction. His subject, a pavane, a court dance of the Renaissance with stylized movements and stately rhythms, would have complemented the dignified architecture of the room. The rich deep colors were planned to stand out against the marble and dark wood of the fireplace surround, while the luxurious backdrop of patterned cloth enhanced with gold paint would have shimmered in the evening light. Abbey made multiple drawings and oil sketches in his attempt to devise a satisfactory arrangement (these are now in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut). Working in his studio in the rural village of Fairford in Gloucestershire, England, where he had lived since 1891, he settled upon a frieze of figures, bounded by topiary trees, in a shallow space that would have appeared to recede from the mantel. Abbey employed his customary attention to detail, studying with great care the particular aspects of historical clothing and the positions and gestures of each of the dancers. The herringbone pattern of the tiled floor is rendered with painstaking precision, its angles carefully calculated and then disguised with the reflective sheen of figures and fabrics.

    A Pavane is an easel painting, an independent canvas fitted in (but not attached) to its architectural setting. Abbey, in New York in the spring of 1897 to attend to the illness of his wife’s mother, made several final adjustments to his canvas and sent it to the annual exhibition of the Society of American Artists, where a critic for The Collector praised it as “the finest thing” in the show.[2] The writer for the New York Times concurred, adding, “in loftiness of sentiment, nobility of conception and treatment, richness of color, movement, and expression, and gracefulness of the figures and ease of drawing, this superb work is altogether delightful. One almost hears the tinkling of the mandolins.” [3]After the exhibition closed, the canvas was delivered to the Reids, who paid Abbey $5,000 for it. It remained in situ at least until the early 1930s when, following the death of Elisabeth Reid, the apartment was slowly dismantled and closed. The painting stayed in the Reid family until 1951, when Helen Rogers Reid, widow of Whitelaw Reid’s son Ogden, sold it at public auction. The original room and fireplace are intact and extant, now part of the New York Palace Hotel.

    Notes
    1. Whitelaw Reid to Stanford White, December 14, 1895, roll 2073, Saarinen Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
    2. The Collector, April 1, 1897, 163.
    3. New York Times, March 27, 1897, BR15.

    Erica E. Hirshler

    Signed

    Signed, dated, and inscribed (at lower right): E.A. Abbey 1897; (at lower left): copyright 1897 by E. A. ABBEY; (on the back): A PAVANNE / E.A. ABBEY / MORGAN HALL / ENGLAND

    Provenance

    1897, commissioned for the home of Whitelaw Reid (1837-1912), New York; 1912, descended through the family to his daughter-in-law, Helen Rogers Reid; March 22-24, 1951, sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, lot 492 to Giovanni Castano Galleries, Boston. After 1955, Françoise Hermann (1919-2003), Falmouth, Mass.; May 2, 2004, Estate of Francoise Hermann, Bonham's and Butterfields, lot 1160 (as The Dance of the Troubadours). 2004, Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York; 2004, sold by Hirschl and Adler Galleries to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 23, 2004)

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Susan A.D. McKelvey and Bequest of Kathleen Rothe, by exchange

    Details

    Dimensions

    Image: 101.6 x 261.6 cm (40 x 103 in.) Framed: 114.9 x 275.9 cm (45 1/4 x 108 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    2004.238

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Jan and Warren Adelson Gallery (Gallery 221)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info
  • Fractal Mountain

    1988
    Richard Rosenblum (American, 1940–2000 American)

    Description

    Provenance

    The artist; 2000, by inheritance to Rosenblum Family Collection; gift to MFA, Boston, June 25, 2003

    Credit Line

    Gift of the Rosenblum Family Collection

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    101.6 x 101.6 x 91.4 cm (40 x 40 x 36 in.)

    Accession Number

    2003.281

    Medium or Technique

    Bronze

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Metamorphosis

    1985
    Richard Rosenblum (American, 1940–2000 American)

    Description

    Provenance

    The artist; 2000, by inheritance to Rosenblum Family Collection; gift to MFA, Boston, June 25, 2003

    Credit Line

    Gift of the Rosenblum Family Collection

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    203.2 x 76.2 x 76.2 cm (80 x 30 x 30 in.)

    Accession Number

    2003.282

    Medium or Technique

    Epoxy

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Rootrider

    1988
    Richard Rosenblum (American, 1940–2000 American)

    Description

    Provenance

    The artist; 2000, by inheritance to Rosenblum Family Collection; gift to MFA, Boston, June 25, 2003

    Credit Line

    Gift of the Rosenblum Family Collection

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    35. 6 x 61 x 20.3 cm (14 x 24 x 8 in.)

    Accession Number

    2003.283

    Medium or Technique

    Bronze

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Tripod plate

    Maya
    Late Classic Period
    A.D. 672–830

    Object Place, Naranjo-Holmul area, Department of Petén, Guatemala

    Description

    Large plate with three tall, cylindrical supports (“legs”), each containing a rattle sphere of clay. Painted in the Holmul-style of eastern Guatemala, the image features the Maize god dancing at creation when he set the Three Stones of the cosmic hearth. These stones also are represented by the three attached cup-like forms on the interior of the plate as well as by the legs, painted in a striped black-and-white pattern that symbolizes stone among such Mesoamerican cultures as the Mixtec of Oaxaca. The Maize god dances on an area painted in a cross-hatched motif with fire curls which may portray the fire of creation in the darkness of the pre-creation era. The exterior walls of the plate echo this theme, being decorated with the black-painted waters of the antedeluvian sea and waterlilies.

    The bottom of the plate is painted with a red circle at its center, which depicts the fire of the cosmic hearth of creation. The long hieroglyphic text eludes full decipherment, but it includes the local version of the Primary Standard sequence, a dedicatory phrase, and may name a male member of the Holmul nobility.

    Provenance

    By 1965, private collection, Costa Rica and later Miami; 1965, sold from this private collection in Miami to a private American collection; December 6, 2005, consigned for sale, Christie's, Paris (sale no. 5329), lot 450, unsold; 2006, sold by Christie's, New York to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 22, 2006) NOTE: The plate was exhibited at the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, in 1980; tested at Brookhaven National Laboratories, 1981, as part of the Maya Survey database and given # MS0605; photographed by Justin Kerr, New York, before 1992 and given Kerr #5723; exhibited in Painting the Maya Universe (Duke University, January 15-March 27, 1994; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, April 15- June 26, 1994; Denver Art Museum, July 15-September 15, 1994; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 8, 1994-January 8, 1995; Yale University Art Museum, February 10, April 23, 1995), and was exhibited at Christie's, New York, November 10-15, 2005 and in Paris, December 2-5, 2005.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by Lavinia and Landon T. Clay

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    MS0605; Kerr 5723

    Dimensions

    Overall: 14 x 33 cm (5 1/2 x 13 in.)

    Accession Number

    2006.844

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware: red, orange, and black on cream slip

    On View

    Ancient Central America Gallery (Gallery LG32)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Ceramics, Pottery, Earthenware

    More Info
  • Diana and Stag Automaton

    Trinkspiel

    German (Augsburg)
    about 1610–20
    Marked by Joachim Fries (1579–1620)

    Description

    Elaborate silver automata were among the most marvelous works of art in German princely collections. The south German city of Augsburg specialized in such courtly drinking amusements during the seventeenth century. The base of this automaton contained a wind-up mechanism that moved it across the table. Once it came to a standstill, the diner closest to it removed the stag’s head and drank the wine from the body.

    Markings

    On top of base: marks of Joachim Fries and Augsburg

    Provenance

    About 1610-1620, Prince Heinrich the Younger of Reuss, called Posthumus (b. 1572 - d. 1635), Gera, Germany; until 1945, by descent within the family and kept at Osterstein Castle, Gera [see note 1]. 1985, private collection, Gera; 1986, taken by the city of Gera and exhibited at the Museum für Geschichte [see note 2]; subsequently restituted to the princely house of Reuss; sold by the princes of Reuss to Rudigier Gallery, Munich and London; 2004, sold by Rudigier Gallery to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 22, 2004) NOTES: [1] In 1945 Osterstein Castle was bombed and burned out completely, and the automaton was thought to have been destroyed. However, it resurfaced in 1985 in the hands of a private owner, who is said to have acquired it by inheritance. The automaton may have been among the objects looted from the castle by Soviet troops. See Siegfried Mues, "Wertvolle Kunstschätze an die Museen der Stadt Gera übergeben," Neue Museumskunde 4 (1987): pp. 287-289. [2] When the automaton was discovered in a private collection, the city took possession of it, the princely house of Reuss having been dispossessed in 1945 by the Soviet Army. In 1987, the museum of Gera displayed it along with other objects thought to have been lost during World War II.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously and the William Francis Warden Fund, Frank B. Bemis Fund, Mary S. and Edward Jackson Holmes Fund, John Lowell Gardner Fund, and by exchange from the Bequest of William A. Coolidge

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height: 33 cm (13 in.); Width: 24.3 cm (9 9/16 in.); Diam. 25.4 cm (10 in.) Other (Base dimensions): 24.3 x 10.2 cm (9 9/16 x 4 in.)

    Accession Number

    2004.568

    Medium or Technique

    Cast and chased silver, partially gilded and painted with translucent lacquers

    On View

    Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Silver-gilt

    More Info
  • Elijah in the Desert

    1818
    Washington Allston (American, 1779–1843)

    Description

    A South Carolinian by birth, Washington Allston attended Harvard College. After graduating he went to London in 1801, where he studied with Benjamin West. He also traveled the Continent, making extended visits to Paris, for almost a year, and Rome, where he stayed for over three years and painted himself in the guise of an intellectual and passionate traveler[84.301]. After another trip abroad in the 1810s, he returned to the United States and settled in Cambridgeport, near Boston.
    Allston is considered America’s first Romantic painter. He took the subject for Elijah in the Desert from the Old Testament. In 1 Kings 17:1–7, God ordered the prophet into the desert where he was miraculously kept alive by ravens, which brought him bread and meat. Allston conveyed Elijah’s experience and appealed to the viewer’s emotional rather than intellectual response through the bleakness of the vast, inhospitable landscape, painted in a sober palette of browns, steely blues, and grays. The mood of desolation and abandonment is underscored by the tiny size of the figure. The sources for Allston’s work here reflect his study of the old masters during his time abroad and include the Venetian Renaissance artist Titian, for his subtle manipulation of expressive color, and the Baroque painter Salvator Rosa, for the drama of the composition.

    Allston was held in the highest esteem in nineteenth-century Boston, where his work appealed especially to literary figures and intellectuals. When plans to establish an art museum in the city evolved after the Civil War, Alice Hooper (who, with her mother, was the donor of this painting) wrote to one of the founders, Martin Brimmer, “We thought we couldn’t better testify our interest in this new art movement at home than by adding a really fine Allston to our public collection.” She went on to suggest that the museum be named after Allston, “the one great artist of America,” although in fact it became the Museum of Fine Arts. [1]Elijah in the Desert was the very first object to enter the collection in 1870, even before the Museum had a building.

    Notes
    1. Alice Hooper to Major General Charles Greely Loring, July 24, 1870, object files, Department of Art of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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

    Inscription

    Reverse, before relining: W. Allston 1818; W. Allston A.R.A.

    Provenance

    After 1818, the painting remained unsold and hung in the house of Allston's friend and patron, Isaac P. Davis (1771-1855), Boston; 1827, sold by Allston to Henry Labouchere (later Lord Taunton, 1798-1869), London for $1000; 1870, sold by Lord Taunton's estate to Mrs. Samuel Hooper and Miss Alice Sturgis Hooper (died 1879), Boston; 1870, gift of Mrs. Samuel Hooper and Miss Alice S. Hooper to the MFA. (Accession Date: November 29, 1870)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. Samuel and Miss Alice Hooper

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 125.1 x 184.8cm (49 1/4 x 72 3/4in.)

    Accession Number

    70.1

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Penny and Jeff Vinik Gallery (Gallery 233)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info
  • Halt at the Spring

    1765
    François Boucher (French, 1703–1770)

    Description

    Boucher was the most fashionable and influential French artist of the eighteenth century. He painted major decorative ensembles, portraits, landscapes, and mythological scenes, and also designed tapestries, opera sets, porcelains, and book illustrations. Halt at the Spring was originally a smaller religious painting portraying the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, with Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child at the left. Between 1761 and 1765, the painting was enlarged (the strips of added canvas are visible at the top and sides) and reworked into a picturesque fantasy of peasant life.

    Signed

    Center right, on pedestal of vase: FBoucher / 1765 (F and B joined)

    Provenance

    By 1769, Pierre-Jacques-Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt (b. 1715 - d. 1785), Paris [see note 1]; April 24, 1786, posthumous Bergeret de Grancourt sale, Hôtel de Bergeret, Paris, lot 47, not sold. December 21-22, 1846, anonymous sale, Beurdley, Paris, lot 1. 1846/1848, probably acquired in Paris by Edward Preble Deacon (b. 1813 - d. 1851) and his wife, Sarahann Parker Deacon (b. 1821 - d. 1900), Boston [see note 2]; 1861, to Mrs. Deacon's father, Peter Parker (b. 1785 - d. 1870), Boston [see note 3]; February 1-3, 1871, Deacon House sale, Leonard and Co., Boston (unnumbered catalogue), sold to Franklin for the heirs of Peter Parker; 1871, gift of the heirs of Peter Parker to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 10, 1871) NOTES: [1] This painting was exhibited at the Salon of 1761, though the owner at the time is not known. This painting was subsequently reworked and enlarged; Boucher signed and dated it 1765. It was exhibited with its pendant (MFA accession no. 71.3) at the Salon of 1769, when Bergeret de Grancourt was recorded as the owner of both works. See Eric M. Zafran, "French Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," vol. 1 (Boston, 1998), cat. nos. 42-43, pp. 107-112. [2] It is possible that the Deacons purchased the two Boucher paintings at the December 21 auction in Paris. They are known to have made two trips to Paris, in 1846-47 and in 1848, to acquire furnishings for their home. See Zafran (as above, n. 1), p. 112. [3] Mr. Deacon died in 1851 and his widow and children went abroad in 1861, at which time the ownership of their home, known as Deacon House, passed to her father. See Zafran (as above, n. 2).

    Credit Line

    Gift of the heirs of Peter Parker

    Details

    Dimensions

    208.6 x 289.9 cm (82 1/8 x 114 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    71.2

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Ann and William Elfers Gallery (Gallery 245)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info
  • Return from Market

    1767
    François Boucher (French, 1703–1770)

    Description

    Return from Market was probably commissioned as a companion piece to Halt at the Spring [MFA Object No. 71.2]. Boucher, who objected to the natural world because it was “too green and badly lit,” created in these works a decorative fiction of billowing clouds and draperies, with abundant, rhythmically interwoven figures and animals. Dashing brushwork, delicate colors, and lighthearted sensuousness are hallmarks of Boucher’s work and embody the high style of his period.

    Signed

    Lower left, on stone: F. Boucher / 1767

    Provenance

    By 1769, Pierre-Jacques-Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt (b. 1715 - d. 1785), Paris [see note 1]; April 24, 1786, posthumous Bergeret de Grancourt sale, Hôtel de Bergeret, Paris, lot 46, not sold. December 21-22, 1846, anonymous sale, Beurdley, Paris, lot 2. 1846/1848, probably acquired in Paris by Edward Preble Deacon (b. 1813 - d. 1851) and his wife, Sarahann Parker Deacon (b. 1821 - d. 1900), Boston [see note 2]; 1861, to Mrs. Deacon's father, Peter Parker (b. 1785 - d. 1870), Boston [see note 3]; February 1-3, 1871, Deacon House sale, Leonard and Co., Boston (unnumbered catalogue), sold to Franklin for the heirs of Peter Parker; 1871, gift of the heirs of Peter Parker to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 10, 1871) NOTES: [1] This painting and its pendant (MFA no. 71.2) were exhibited at the Salon of 1769, when Bergeret de Grancourt was recorded as their owner. See Eric M. Zafran, "French Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," vol. 1 (Boston, 1998), cat. nos. 42-43, pp. 107-112. [2] It is possible that the Deacons purchased the two Boucher paintings at the December 21 auction in Paris. They are known to have made two trips to Paris, in 1846-47 and in 1848, to acquire furnishings for their home. See Zafran (as above, n. 1), p. 112. [3] Mr. Deacon died in 1851 and his widow and children went abroad in 1861, at which time the ownership of their home, known as Deacon House, passed to her father. See Zafran (as above, n. 2).

    Credit Line

    Gift of the heirs of Peter Parker

    Details

    Dimensions

    209.6 x 290.5 cm (82 1/2 x 114 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    71.3

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Ann and William Elfers Gallery (Gallery 245)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info
  • Architrave relief from the Temple of Athena at Assos with a scene of Herakles and Centaurs

    Greek, East Greek
    Archaic Period
    about 540–525 B.C.

    Findspot: Anatolia (Turkey), Troad, Assos (Behramkale), Foundations of the rampart at southwest angle

    Description

    The taenia and regula (without guttae) of a Doric architrave are at the top of the block, a similar taenia at the bottom, and a narrower, raised band at the right end. Within this frame appears the adventure of Herakles with the centaurs of Mount Pholoë. The upper part of the centaur Pholos, the host of Herakles, is preserved at the left end. He is bearded, nude, and has human forelegs. He holds a large wine cup in his right hand, and lifts his left in a gesture of astonishment.

    In front of him Herakles, beardless and nude, stands in profile to the right, bending forward, with his left leg advanced. He is drawing his bow, while before him three centaurs flee rapidly to the right. All three are bearded and have human forelegs. The first and third look back as they run, and carry what appear to be clubs, one in his right, the other in his left hand. The centaur in the middle is without a weapon, stretching out one arm in front and one behind him. The lower parts of all three centaurs are exactly alike; the left foreleg is advanced and the equine hind legs are placed side by side. The hind legs of two of the centaurs overlap the thigh of the following figure.

    Broken in two, the relief is incomplete and broken irregularly, at the left end; the upper right-hand corner has been broken off. The surfaces are worn, both chipped and weathered. The surfaces are now a crusty brown.

    Provenance

    From the temple of Athena at Assos (Behramkale, Turkey); foundations of the rampart at the southwest angle of the citadel. 1881: excavated by the Archaeological Institute of America; gift of the Archaeological Institute of America to MFA, January 1884.

    Credit Line

    Gift of the Archaeological Institute of America

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 019; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 106 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 038-039.

    Dimensions

    Height: 82 cm (32 5/16 in.); width: 248 cm (97 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    84.67

    Medium or Technique

    Trachyte

    On View

    Evanthea and Leo Condakes Gallery (Gallery 113A)

    Collections

    The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Architectural elements

    More Info
  • Architrave block from the Temple of Athena at Assos with facing sphinxes

    Greek, East Greek
    Archaic Period
    about 540–525 B.C.

    Findspot: Anatolia (Turkey), Troad, Assos (Behramkale), Reused in medieval wall of citadel

    Description

    Two recumbent sphinxes placed heraldically facing one another occupy the whole face of this block. They are carved in somewhat higher relief than the figures of the block with Pholos, Herakles, and the centaurs (84.67 a and b). In the center between the sphinxes is a small, slender column surmounted by a rudimentary Ionic capital. Each sphinx rests one forepaw on this capital, while the other foreleg is laid along the ground. Their wings curve upward and have rounded tips; their tails are S-shaped, with a tuft at the end. The heads are of a distinctly Archaic type, with receding forehead, prominent nose, small, rounded chin, lips twisted up in a smile, and large eye shown in nearly front view. Their hair is drawn back behind the ears and falls in a thick mass on the neck.

    The relief has been broken in two, and the upper edge of the left-hand fragment is injured. It is complete at the left end. The missing portion of the block, including the body of the right-hand sphinx, is in the Archaeological Museum at Istanbul. The surfaces are now a crusty brown.

    Provenance

    From the architrave of the Temple of Athena at Assos (Behramkale, Turkey); reused in a medieval wall at the northwest part of the citadel at Assos. 1881: excavated by the Archaeological Institute of America; gift of the Archaeological Institute of America to MFA, January 1884.

    Credit Line

    Gift of the Archaeological Institute of America

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 020; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 106-107 (additional published references).

    Dimensions

    82 x 190 cm (32 5/16 x 74 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    84.68

    Medium or Technique

    Trachyte

    On View

    Evanthea and Leo Condakes Gallery (Gallery 113A)

    Collections

    The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Architectural elements

    More Info
  • Automedon with the Horses of Achilles

    1868
    Henri Regnault (French, 1843–1871)

    Description

    Regnault’s painting illustrates a story from Homer’s Iliad. Automedon, chariot driver for the Greek warrior Achilles, restrains the horses Xanthos (behind) and Balios, two beasts who could predict the future. As Regnault wrote, “the horses, aware that their master [Achilles] is taking them into combat, and that this combat will be the last and will cost him his life, struggle and wrest with the groom who has come to take them from their pasture. One of them, chestnut brown, rises like a great dark phantom, outlining himself against the sky. I wanted to give the picture a foretaste of disaster.”

    Inscription

    Lower left: H. Regnault / Rome. / 1868

    Provenance

    By 1872, acquired in France by Levi Parsons Morton (b. 1824 - d. 1920), New York [see note 1]; March 1, 1882, Morton sale, George A. Leavitt and Co., New York, lot 157, to Samuel A. Coale, St. Louis, MO [see note 2]; 1890, sold by Coale to the MFA for $1000. (Accession Date: June 17, 1890) NOTES: [1] The painting was executed in Rome in 1867/1868 and sent by the artist to Paris. Notes in the curatorial file indicate that Morton acquired it in France, where he served as U.S. Minister, though how and when is not known. It was first published as being in his possession by Henri Cazalès, "Henri Regnault: sa vie et son oeuvre" (Paris, 1872), p. 141. [2] In 1883, Coale exhibited the painting at William and Everett Gallery, Boston. It was on loan to the MFA from 1884 until 1890, during which time funds were raised for its purchase. See Walter Muir Whitehill, "Museum of Fine Arts Boston: A Centennial History" (Cambridge, MA, 1970), vol. 1, pp. 78–81.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by contribution

    Details

    Dimensions

    315 x 329 cm (124 x 129 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    90.152

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    The Beal Gallery (Gallery 251)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info
    Multimedia
    • audio

      ENG_815.mp3

  • Mixing bowl (calyx krater) depicting dueling scenes from the Trojan war

    Greek
    Late Archaic Period
    about 490–480 B.C.
    the Tyszkiewicz Painter

    Place of Manufacture, Athens, Attica, Greece

    Description

    Side A: On both sides of this krater are duels from the Trojan War. Memnon, king of Ethiopia, was an ally of the Trjojans. His death at the hands of Achilles was described in the Aethiopis, a lost epic poem. Achilles and Memnon wear corselets covered with plates of scale-armor. Achilles carries a “Theban” shield, with deep, semi-circular notches; the device on the front is not visible but Memnon’s shield has the head of a gorgon. Encouraged by Athena who holds out her snake-rimmed Aegis, Achilles has stabbed Memnon, who falls into the arms of his mother Eos, goddess of the Dawn. She carried his body to Ethiopia, where, at her urging, Zeus granted him immortality.
    Figures labeled: Side A: ATHENAIA, AXILEUS, MELANIPPOS, MEIMNON, EIOS. On shield: “Lacheas is handsome” (LAXEAS KALOS)

    Side B: The fight on this side is an episode also descibed in Book V of Homer’s Iliad: the wounding of the Trojan prince Aeneas by Diomedes. As in the other scene, Athena favors the Greek hero, who has wounded Aeneas with a spear. Aphrodite rushes up to save her wounded son, an act that so infuriated Diomedes that he wounded the goddess herself, as well as her lover Ares, the god of war. The Tyszkiewicz Painter is named after this vase, which once belonged to a collector of that name.
    Figures labeled: Side B: ATHENAIA, DIOMEDES, AINEAS, APHRODITE (in retrograde)

    Condition: Slight chip in the rim.

    Inscription

    Figures labeled: Side A: ATHENAIA, AXILEUS, MELANIPPOS, MEIMNON, EIOS, On shield: "Lacheas is handsome" (LAXEAS KALOS) Side B: ATHENAIA, DIOMEDES, AINEAS, APHRODITE (in retrograde)

    Provenance

    Said to be from Vulci and to have been found at Canino in 1889 (according to L. D. Caskey and J. D. Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, no. 70); by 1891: Count Michel Tyszkiewicz Collection (said to have been purchased in Trieste); by date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren; 1897: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 25,000.00 (this figure is the total price for MFA 97.285-97.442 and 97.1104)

    Credit Line

    Catharine Page Perkins Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Caskey-Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings (MFA), no. 070.

    Dimensions

    Height: 45.2 cm (17 13/16 in.); diameter: 51/3 cm (20 3/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    97.368

    Medium or Technique

    Ceramic, Red Figure

    On View

    Krupp Gallery (Gallery 215A)

    Collections

    The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Vessels

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  • Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On)

    1840
    Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775–1851)

    Description

    One of Turner’s most celebrated works, Slave Ship is a striking example of the artist’s fascination with violence, both human and elemental. The painting was based on a poem that described a slave ship caught in a typhoon, and on the true story of the slave ship Zong whose captain, in 1781, had thrown overboard sick and dying slaves so that he could collect insurance money available only for slaves “lost at sea.” Turner captures the horror of the event and terrifying grandeur of nature through hot, churning color and light that merge sea and sky. The critic John Ruskin, the first owner of Slave Ship, wrote, “If I were reduced to rest Turner’s immortality upon any single work, I should choose this.”

    Provenance

    Consigned by the artist to his dealer, Thomas Griffith (b. 1795); December, 1843, sold by Griffith to John James Ruskin (b. 1785 - d. 1864), London, for his son, John Ruskin (b. 1819 - d. 1900) [see note 1]; April 15, 1869, Ruskin sale, Christie's, London, lot 50, unsold; 1872, sold by Ruskin, through William T. Blodgett (b. about 1832 - d. 1875), New York, to John Taylor Johnston (b. 1820 - d. 1893), New York [see note 2]; December 19-22, 1876, Johnston sale, American Art Association, New York, lot 76, to Alice Sturgis Hooper (b. 1841 - d. 1879), Boston [see note 3]; by descent to her nephew, William Sturgis Hooper Lothrop, Boston; 1899, sold by William Lothrop to the MFA for $65,000. (Accession Date: February 24, 1899) NOTES: [1] See Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, "The Paintings of J. M. W. Turner" (New Haven and London, 1984), text vol., pp. 236-237, cat. no. 385 and John Gage, ed., "Collected Correspondence of J. M. W. Turner" (Oxford, 1980), 282-283. [2] See Madeleine Fidell Beaufort and Jeanne K. Welcher, "Some Views of Art Buying in New York in the 1870s and 1880s," Oxford Art Journal 5, no. 1 (1982): 51. [3] For further on Alice Sturgis Hooper, her brother-in-law, Thornton K. Lothrop, and his son, William, see Andrew Walker, "From Private Sermon to Public Masterpiece: J. M. W. Turner's _The Slave Ship_ in Boston, 1876 - 1899," Journal of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 6 (1994): 4-13.

    Credit Line

    Henry Lillie Pierce Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    90.8 x 122.6 cm (35 3/4 x 48 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    99.22

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    The Beal Gallery (Gallery 251)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Object accessories, tools and equipment

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    Multimedia
    • audio

      ENG_808.mp3

  • Cameo with the wedding of Cupid and Psyche, or an initiation rite

    Roman
    Late Republican or Early Imperial Period
    mid 1st–late 1st century B.C.
    Signed by Tryphon

    Description

    Layered onyx. Cameo. The wedding of Cupid and Psyche. Incised Greek inscription: “Tryphon made it.”

    Provenance

    Known since the early 16th century when the cameo was drawn by Pirro Ligorio; by 1628 in the collection of Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens; by 1727 inventoried in the collection of the Duke of Arundel; in the 18th century: Duke of Marlborough Collection; in 1875 sold to D. Bromilow; by 1899: with Christie, Manson & Woods, 8 King Street, St. James's Square, London (auction of the Marlborough Collection, June 26, 1899, lot 160); 1899: with Edward Perry Warren; 1899: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 16,502.52 (this figure is the total price for MFA 99.101-99.119)

    Credit Line

    Henry Lillie Pierce Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 091.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 3.7 x 4.5 x 0.6 cm (1 7/16 x 1 3/4 x 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    99.101

    Medium or Technique

    Onyx

    On View

    Anne and Blake Ireland Gallery (Gallery 210A)

    Collections

    Jewelry, The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Jewelry / Adornment, Cameos

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  • Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Izard (Alice Delancey)

    1775
    John Singleton Copley (American, 1738–1815)

    Description

    Copley left America on June 10, 1774, as the increasing political turmoil in the colonies placed the artist in a precarious position between his Whig and Tory patrons. After spending several weeks in England, Copley made his way to Italy. There he was sought out by Ralph Izard, a wealthy merchant from Charleston, South Carolina, who desired to have his portrait painted by the young American artist. Copley and the Izards traveled together to Naples, where they toured Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum. Returning to Rome, Copley began this monumental double portrait of the Izards, building on the traditional repertoire of formal portraiture to depict the Izards as connoisseurs on the Grand Tour.

    Seated opposite each other at a polished porphyry table, Mr. and Mrs. Izard are surrounded by opulent furnishings and classical references that connote their wealth, discriminating taste, and cultural sophistication. The high-style table and elaborately carved chairs are Roman in design, while the column and plinth behind Ralph Izard are faced with verde antique, a rare green marble from Thessaly. The distant view includes the Colosseum, symbol of ancient Rome and the most important monument for early American travelers to Italy. Ralph Izard holds a drawing of the sculptural group located directly behind him and his wife. The inclusion of this sculpture, often identified as Orestes and Electra, and the fifth-century-B.C. Greek vase at the upper left, are important reminders of the Izards’ interest in art and antiquities. The antique objects also communicate themes of erotic and fraternal love, a reference by Copley to the Izards’ love for each other.

    The Izards never took possession of their portrait, having left Rome late in 1775 to return to London and then moving to Paris during the Revolutionary War. Copley completed the painting, which he then took to London; it may have been the picture exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1776, titled A Conversation.

    This text was adapted from Eleanor Jones in Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. et al., The Lure of Italy: American Artists and the Italian Experience, 1760–1914, exh. cat.(Boston: Museum of Fine Arts in association with Harry N. Abrams, 1992).

    Provenance

    1775, the artist; 1824, sold by Copley's widow to the sitters' grandson, Dr. Gabriel Manigault (1788-1834), Charleson, S. C.; by 1889, descended in the Manigault family to Dr. Gabriel Edward Manigault (1833-1899), Charleston; 1903, sold by the estate of Dr. Gabriel Edward Manigault to the MFA for $7,250. (Accession Date: April 28, 1903)

    Credit Line

    Edward Ingersoll Brown Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 174.6 x 223.5cm (68 3/4 x 88in.) Framed: 203.2 x 254 x 10.2 cm (80 x 100 x 4 in.)

    Accession Number

    03.1033

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Liberty Mutual Gallery (Gallery 136)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Paintings

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  • Head of a priest (The Boston Green Head)

    Egyptian
    Late Period, Dynasty 30
    380–332 B.C.

    Description

    This head of a priest, called the Boston Green Head, is the best portrait sculpture known from the Late Period. The face is wonderfully lifelike and individual. Light wavy lines indicate the furrows of his brow, and crow’s feet radiate from the outer corners of his eyes. The top of his nose has a pronounced bony ridge. Deep creases run from the edges of his nose to the corners of his mouth. Thin lips and a downturned mouth impart an expression of strength and determination. The slight wart on his left cheek is unique in Egyptian art and also introduces an element of asymmetry dear to the artists of the Late Period.

    The head has an illustrious provenance. In the spring of 1857, Napoleon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte, a cousin of Emperor Napoleon III known as Prince Plonplon, announced his intention to visit Egypt. Archduke Maximilian of Austria had recently returned from a Nile excursion with a handsome collection of Egyptian art, and the prince vowed to surpass him. Said Pasha, the passionately pro-French viceroy of Egypt, was determined to please his imperial guest. He charged Auguste Mariette, famed discoverer of the Serapeum, the burial place of the sacred Apis bulls, with the task of building a collection. To save time, Mariette was to explore the proposed itinerary, dig for antiquities, and then rebury them, thus facilitating their rediscovery by the prince. In the end, Plonplon canceled his reservations, but nonetheless received a selection of choice objects — including the Green Head as a souvenir of the trip that never was. Yet there were happy consequences, for as a result of his efforts and through the prince’s influence, Mariette was appointed Egypt’s first director of antiquities, a milestone in the care and protection of Egypt’s monuments.

    Provenance

    Said to have been found at the Serapeum, Saqqara. 1858: given by Muhammed Said Pasha to Prince Napoleon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte; by 1904: with Edward Perry Warren; 1904: purchased by the MFA from Edward Perry Warren. (Accession Date: January 19, 1904)

    Credit Line

    Henry Lillie Pierce Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height x width x depth: 10.5 x 8.5 x 11.3 cm (4 1/8 x 3 3/8 x 4 7/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    04.1749

    Medium or Technique

    Greywacke

    On View

    Egyptian Late Period Gallery (Gallery 216)

    Collections

    The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Shô Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion

    Shô Kannon bosatsu zazô

    Japanese
    Kamakura period
    dated 1269
    Saichi (Japanese, dates unknown)

    Description

    Provenance

    Originally owned by Kongorin-ji, Shiga Prefecture; by 1911, purchased by William Sturgis Bigelow (b. 1850 - d. 1926), Boston [see note 1]; 1911, gift of Bigelow to the MFA. (Accession Date: August 3, 1911) NOTES: [1] Much of Bigelow's collection of Asian art was formed during his residence in Japan between 1882 and 1889, although he also made acquisitions in Europe and the United States. Bigelow deposited many of these objects at the MFA in 1890 before donating them to the Museum's collection at later dates.

    Credit Line

    William Sturgis Bigelow Collection

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Kajima Volume 1: Chapter 2, pg. 39: no. 38

    Dimensions

    Overall (Height of figure): 50.3 cm (19 13/16 in.) Overall (Height to hairline): 38.2 cm (15 1/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    11.11447

    Medium or Technique

    Gilt bronze; cast from piece molds

    On View

    Japan: Buddhist Art (Gallery 278B)

    Collections

    Asia

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
    Multimedia
    • audio

      ENG_509.mp3

  • Seated bodhisattva

    Chinese
    Eastern Wei dynasty
    about A.D. 530

    Description

    Provenance

    1903, excavated from the White Horse Monastery (Baima Si), Loyang, Henan province, China. 1913, acquired in Paris by Denman Waldo Ross (b. 1853 - d. 1935); gift of Denman Waldo Ross to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 2, 1913)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Denman Waldo Ross in memory of Okakura Kakuzo

    Details

    Dimensions

    196.5 x 90 x 46 cm (77 3/8 x 35 7/16 x 18 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    13.2804

    Medium or Technique

    Carved limestone

    On View

    Paul and Helen Bernat Galleries (Gallery 270)

    Collections

    Asia

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Statue of Lady Sennuwy

    Egyptian
    Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, reign of Senwosret I
    1971–1926 B.C.

    Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Kerma, Tumulus K III, hall A

    Description

    Egyptian officials of the Middle Kingdom continued the practice of equipping their tombs with statues to house the ka of the tomb owner and to provide a focal point for the offering cult. Highly ranked officials also dedicated statues of themselves at sanctuaries of gods and deified ancestors. Following the experimental and idiosyncratic interlude of the First Intermediate Period, sculptors once again produced large-scale stone statues, returning to the basic forms and poses established in the Old Kingdom.

    This elegant seated statue of Lady Sennuwy of Asyut is one of the most superbly carved and beautifully proportioned sculptures from the Middle Kingdom. The unknown artist shaped and polished the hard, gray granodiorite with extraordinary skill, suggesting that he was trained in a royal workshop. He has portrayed Sennuwy as a slender, graceful young woman, dressed in the tightly fitting sheath dress that was fashionable at the time. The carefully modeled planes of the face, framed by a long, thick, striated wig, convey a serene confidence and timeless beauty. Such idealized, youthful, and placid images characterize the first half of Dynasty 12 and hark back to the art of the Old Kingdom. Sennuwy sits poised and attentive on a solid, blocklike chair, with her left hand resting flat on her lap and her right hand holding a lotus blossom, a symbol of rebirth. Inscribed on the sides and base of the chair are hieroglyphic texts declaring that she is venerated in the presence of Osiris and other deities associated with the afterlife.

    Sennuwy was the wife of a powerful provincial governor, Djefaihapi of Asyut, whose rock-cut tomb is the largest nonroyal tomb of the Middle Kingdom. Clearly, the couple had access to the finest artists and materials available. It is likely that this statue, along with a similar sculpture of Djefaihapi, was originally set up in the tomb chapel, although they may also have stood in a sanctuary. Both statues were discovered, however, far to the south at Kerma in Nubia, where they had been buried in the royal tumulus of a Nubian king who lived generations after Sennuwy’s death. They must have been removed from their original location and exported to Nubia some three hundred years after they were made. Exactly how, why, and when these pieces of sculpture, along with numerous other Egyptian statues, found their way to Kerma, however, is still unknown.

    Provenance

    From Nubia (Sudan), Kerma, K III hall A. 1913: Excavated by the Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA by the government of the Sudan. (Accession Date: July 2, 1914)

    Credit Line

    Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition

    Details

    Dimensions

    Framed (The object sits on epoxy bed /structural steel pallet tubing): 21.6 x 62.2 x 116.2 cm (8 1/2 x 24 1/2 x 45 3/4 in.) Mount (Steel channel base with cross bracing 3" x 3/16"): 30.5 x 62.2 x 116.2 cm (12 x 24 1/2 x 45 3/4 in.) Overall (steel pallet and object, weighed): 170.2 x 116.2 x 47 cm, 1224.71 kg (67 x 45 3/4 x 18 1/2 in., 2700 lb.) Weight (Object and steel pallet with attaching steel base, estimate): 1319.97 kg (2910 lb.) Weight (Object (calculated by subtracting estimate of pallet weight)): 1079.56 kg (2380 lb.)

    Accession Number

    14.720

    Medium or Technique

    Granodiorite

    On View

    Egypt: Sculpture and Tomb Chapels (Gallery 209)

    Collections

    The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • The Sower

    1850
    Jean-François Millet (French, 1814–1875)

    Description

    Jean-François Millet was the artist that van Gogh most revered. Although he never saw Millet’s famous Sower - already in a Boston collection before he was born - van Gogh admired Millet’s other treatments of the theme, and sought to emulate them. At the very beginning of his career, he wrote that “I must draw diggers, sowers, men & women at the plough, without cease… I no longer stand as helpless before nature as I used to do.”

    Inscription

    Lower left: J. F. Millet

    Provenance

    About 1851/1852, sold by the artist to William Morris Hunt (b. 1824 - d. 1879), Boston [see note 1]; 1874, sold by Hunt through Doll and Richards, Boston, to Quincy Adams Shaw (b. 1825 - d. 1908), Boston; 1917, gift of Quincy Adams Shaw through Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr. and Mrs. Marian Shaw Haughton, to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 29, 1917) NOTES: [1] Alexandra R. Murphy, "Jean-François Millet" (Boston: MFA, 1984), pp. 31-34, cat. no. 18.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Quincy Adams Shaw through Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr., and Mrs. Marian Shaw Haughton

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Murphy 18

    Dimensions

    101.6 x 82.6 cm (40 x 32 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1485

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    Not On View

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info
  • Harp (cláirseach)

    1734
    John Kelly (Irish, active 1726–1734)

    Object Place, Ireland

    Description

    Quadrangular soundbox (severely distorted from string tension). Sides and soundboard carved from single block of willow. Back of willow with two large circular soundholes, attached to soundbox with trenails. Sides of soundbox incised with scrolling foliage and flowers. Soundboard incised with three pairs of hexafoils. Strip of brass down center of soundboard, perforated for string attachment. Curved pillar of willow in T-shaped cross-section with scalloped edges and incised on front with thistle and tulip. Black, red, and white painted decoration. Pillar surmounted by carved head wearing crown. Neck of willow, with strips of brass along each side, perforated for tuning pins. Four strings attached to tuning pins in pillar. Tuning pins of brass. Exact compass unknown (thirty-seven strings).

    Inscription

    Incised on pillar: MADE - BY / IOHN - KELLY / FOR / THE REVD / CHARLES / BUNWORTH / BALTDANI / EL / 1734

    Provenance

    1734, made by artist for Reverend Charles Bunworth (d. about 1770), Rector of Buttevant, Baltdaniel, County Cork (Ireland); 1826, by descent to his granddaughter, Miss Dillon of Blackrock, near Cork; before 1854, by descent to his great-grandson, Thomas Crofton Croker (1798-1854); December 22, 1854, sold by Messrs. Puttick and Simpson, London, to Thomas Bateman (about 1821-1861), Lomberdale Hall, Derbyshire, England, where kept in a private museum; June 1893, sold by Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge to Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England (lot no. 292); 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height 167.8 cm, width 78.6 cm, depth 33.4 cm (Height 66 1/16 in., width 30 15/16 in., depth 13 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1787

    Medium or Technique

    Willow, brass

    Not On View

    Collections

    Europe, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

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  • Clavichord

    end of the 16th or early 17th century

    Object Place, Italy

    Description

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 116.8 cm, width 39.3 cm, case height 14.8 cm (Length 46 in., width 15 1/2 in., case height 5 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1796

    Medium or Technique

    Fir

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Chordophones

    More Info
    Multimedia
    • audio

      MIAudio144.mp3

  • Miroku, the Bodhisattva of the Future

    Miroku bosatsu ryûzô

    Japanese
    Kamakura period
    1189
    Artist Kaikei (Japanese, active 1189–1223 Japanese)

    Description

    Provenance

    Until 1906, Temple of Kôfuku-ji, Nara, Japan. Okakura Kakuzo (b. 1862 - d. 1913), Boston; 1920, sold by the estate of Okakura Kakuzô to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 3, 1920)

    Credit Line

    Chinese and Japanese Special Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Kajima Volume 1: Chapter 2, pg. 38: no. 33

    Dimensions

    Overall (Figure standing on base): 142.2 x 62.2 x 53.3 cm (56 x 24 1/2 x 21 in.)

    Accession Number

    20.723a

    Medium or Technique

    Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) with gold and inlaid crystal; split-and-joined construction

    On View

    Japanese Buddhist Gallery (Gallery 278C)

    Collections

    Asia

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Altarpiece with Amitabha and Attendants

    Chinese
    Sui dynasty
    dated A.D. 593

    Description

    Provenance

    Late ninteenth century, excavated in the vicinity of the Zhaozhou Bridge. Before 1911, Duan Fang (b. 1861- d. 1911), China. By 1922, Mrs. Walter Scott Fitz (Henrietta Goddard Wigglesworth) (b. 1847 - d. 1927), Boston; 1922, gift of Mrs. Fitz to the MFA. (Accession Date: May 4, 1922)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. W. Scott Fitz and Edward Jackson Holmes

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 76.5cm (30 1/8in.) Other (Base): 34.4 x 30cm (13 1/2 x 11 13/16in.)

    Accession Number

    22.407

    Medium or Technique

    Cast bronze

    On View

    Paul and Helen Bernat Galleries (Gallery 274)

    Collections

    Asia

    Classifications

    Metalwork

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  • Torso of King Achoris

    Egyptian
    Late Period, Dynasty 29, reign of Achoris
    393–381 B.C.

    Findspot: Egypt, Perhaps Heliopolis

    Description

    This magnificent sculpture fragment, one of few inscribed for King Achoris, is a wonderful combination of old and new. Enough remains of the torso and legs to show that the king was represented in the traditional striding pose for men, left foot forward, arms at his sides. What is new is the fleshiness of the body and the treatment of the anatomy, by which chest, rib cage, and abdomen are rendered as three separate areas, a convention known as tripartition. Although the head is lost, it probably closely resembled the Head of Nectanebo II in the Blue Crown.

    The statue came to the United States during the American Civil War (1861–65), along with four other Egyptian sculptures now in the Museum. They were acquired by a Yankee sea captain who touched at Alexandria on his way home from a voyage to the Mediterranean. No doubt they were collected more for their sheer weight (as ballast) than for their artistic merit. The ship was captured by the Confederates and brought to New Orleans, and the statues were deposited at the customs house there. After the war they were purchased by the Yankee postmaster, who took them to his home in Lowell, Massachusetts. There they stood on his front lawn for sixty years before being acquired by the Museum.

    The back-pillar inscription that provides the king’s titles and names is incomplete: “Horus: Great of heart, beloved of the Two Lands; Two Ladies: the Brave: Golden Horus: Who pacifies the gods; King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Khnummaatra Setepenbanebdjedet, the son of Re …” What was likely to have been the lower portion of the statue, seen in 1842 in the courtyard of the Greek consul in Alexandria, is reported to have been inscribed on its back pillar with the remainder of the king’s titulary, picking up exactly where the Boston fragment leaves off: “the son of Re Achoris [beloved of] Atum lord of Iunu.” The present location of this fragment is unknown, so that it is impossible to verify the connection.

    Provenance

    Perhaps Heliopolis (el-Matariya), via Alexandria. With 29.728, 29.729, 29.731, 29.733: purchased at the Customs House in New Orleans during the Civil War (1861-65) by Mr. J. M. G. Parker of Lowell, Massachusetts ("Somebody got them in Egypt and was bringing them into this country, and the officials seized them. My grandfather was postmaster there at the time, and with the help of my cousin, the late Gen. B. F. Butler, bought them at a very low price. When the war was over he brought them to his home on Tenth Street, Lowell, and had them placed on the front lawn around the piazza, where they have been ever since," Edward A. Tuck to J. R. Coolidge, March 29, 1906); by descent to Parker Tuck; February 7, 1929: purchased by the MFA from Parker Tuck for $1500.* (Accession date: February 7, 1929) Price includes 29.728-29.733.

    Credit Line

    Maria Antoinette Evans Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 111 cm, 315.7 kg (43 11/16 in., 696 lb.) Case (Object bolted to wooden pedestal): 107.6 x 59.7 x 59.7 cm (42 3/8 x 23 1/2 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    29.732

    Medium or Technique

    Granodiorite

    On View

    Egyptian Late Period Gallery (Gallery 216)

    Collections

    The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Torso of a fertility goddess (yakshi), from the Great Stupa at Sanchi

    Indian
    Sunga period
    25 B.C.–A.D. 25

    Object Place, Madhya Pradesh, Central India

    Description

    Provenance

    From the Great Stupa at Sánchi, India [see note 1]. Mid-nineteenth century, probably removed from Sánchi and taken to England [see note 2]. By 1929, Edward Goldston, London. 1929, Denman Waldo Ross (b. 1853 - d. 1935), Cambridge, MA; 1929, gift of Ross to the MFA. (Accession Date: August 1, 1929) NOTES: [1] According to Alexander Cunningham, this comes from the Western Gate. See his Bhilsa Topes; or, Buddhist Monuments of Central India (London, 1854), pl. XIV. [2] See A[nanda] K[entish] C[oomaraswamy], in the MFA Bulletin 28 (February, 1930), p. 18.

    Credit Line

    Denman Waldo Ross Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 72.1 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm (28 3/8 x 14 x 9 in.) Weight: 58.97 kg (130 lb.) Mount (Steel armature support scecured into the pedestal): 3.8 x 2.5 cm (1 1/2 x 1 in.) Case (Reinforced wooden pedestal): 121.9 x 45.7 x 45.7 cm (48 x 18 x 18 in.)

    Accession Number

    29.999

    Medium or Technique

    Sandstone

    Not On View

    Collections

    Asia

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Statue of Osiris (upper part)

    Egyptian
    Late Period, Dynasty 26
    664–525 B.C.

    Findspot: Egypt, Giza

    Description

    Osiris, god of the dead, stands mummiform, arms folded right over left, with wedge-formed feet. Head and hands emerge from a shroud so smoothly contoured to the shape of the body that details such as arms, elbows, and kneecaps emerge from the plain undifferentiated surface as islands of relief, while the crook and flail appear less as accessories than as organic outgrowths of the underlying form. The base and back pillar are inscribed with mortuary texts on behalf of the “king’s acquaintance” Ptahirdis, whose father’s name was Wepwawetem-saf and whose mother’s name was Merptahites.

    The statue has the oldest modern history in the Egyptian collection. The upper part (from the knees up) was excavated in 1928 by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition in the shaft of Giza tomb 7792, east of the Great Pyramid. The lower part (base and ankles) was discovered 130 years earlier. It was brought to France by General Jean Lannes (later marshal of France and duke of Montebello), one of Napoleon’s most valiant officers, who participated in the short-lived but epoch-making Egyptian Campaign of 1798–1801, the beginning of the modern science of Egyptology.

    General Lannes by all reports was no antiquarian. The feet of Osiris passed down in his family for six generations until 1999, when Egyptologist Olivier Perdu, visiting French country house collections of antiquities, recognized it as belonging to the MFA fragment. Although it does not directly join (approximately 8 centimeters [3 inches] in the middle are restored), its size, shape, material, and above all the identical names and titles of the personages mentioned in the inscriptions leave no doubt that it belongs. Through the generosity of a friend the lower part was purchased by the Museum, and the two fragments, sundered in antiquity, are now one. The result is both a masterpiece of Late Period sculpture and a historical link with the founding moment of modern Egyptology.

    Provenance

    From Giza, Eastern Cemetery, Pit G 7792 A, filling. April, 1928: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1929: assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt. (Accession date: April 1, 1928.)

    Credit Line

    Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height: 55 cm (21 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    29.1131

    Medium or Technique

    Greywacke

    Not On View

    Collections

    The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Silver

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  • Figural lamp stand

    Chinese
    Bronze Figure: Eastern Zhou, Warring States
    4th–3rd century B.C.

    Description

    Provenance

    Excavated from Jin Cun, near Luoyang, China. 1931, C.T.Loo and Company, New York; sold by C.T.Loo and Co. to the MFA for $ 6000. (Accession Date: December 3,1931)

    Credit Line

    Maria Antoinette Evans Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height 30cm (11 13/16in.)

    Accession Number

    31.976

    Medium or Technique

    Bronze and jade

    On View

    Paul and Helen Bernat Galleries (Gallery 273)

    Collections

    Asia

    Classifications

    Metalwork

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  • Press cupboard

    1650–1700

    Object Place, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    This cupboard descended in the Alden family of Duxbury. Characteristic of furniture from this area, it features serrated (sawtooth) moldings, gouged-line ornament, spindles, and applied moldings in a diamond pattern. Cupboards held textiles and other goods, in its compartments and lower drawers, while objects of silver, glass, and ceramic were displayed proudly on its top.

    Provenance

    There is a note attached to the back of a drawer stating "This cabinet came over in the Ship May Flower in 1620 / Albert Alden".

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 19

    Dimensions

    147.16 x 127.63 x 60.32 cm (57 15/16 x 50 1/4 x 23 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    32.258

    Medium or Technique

    Red oak, white pine, white cedar, maple (by micro analysis)

    On View

    Manning House (Gallery LG36)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case Furniture and Boxes

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  • A Garden

    1883
    Thomas Wilmer Dewing (American, 1851–1938 American)

    Description

    A native of Boston, Thomas Wilmer Dewing began his career as a lithographer. He first listed himself as a taxidermist and then a clerk in city directories, but by the early 1870s he had started to think of himself as a painter. He traveled to Paris for two years of study, like many American artists in the decades after the Civil War, and returned to Boston to teach at the newly founded School of the Museum of Fine Arts. In 1880 he moved to New York, where he taught at the Art Students League, later explaining that living anywhere other than Manhattan was “camping out.”[1]He and his wife Maria, also a painter, did leave the city to spend each summer in Cornish, New Hampshire, where they became integral members of the art colony that established itself there.
    Dewing was interested in contemporary European art and, especially during the early part of his career, he drew inspiration from a variety of sources: Italian, French, and English. A Garden was one of the first paintings he made in the manner of the Aesthetic movement, a style based on British models that emphasized beauty and harmonious design. English painters like Lawrence Alma-Tadema [41.117], whom Dewing especially admired, crafted flawlessly beautiful genre scenes with themes from classical antiquity. In A Garden, Dewing worked in a delicate, realistic style, employing a number of motifs common to those consciously artistic paintings: lovely women in classical robes, a marble bench imagined from Greek and Roman sources, swaying poppies, and elegant peacocks. However Dewing’s garden is hidden, detached from the world beyond the wall where bright sails can be glimpsed plying an unknown sea. The lyre-playing figure is hooded and sits before a patch of ripe melons, symbols of fertility, and poppies, emblems of sleep, dreams, and decadence. The flute player reclines gracefully near a white peacock, a token of marriage, immortality, and also vanity. Yet this combination of objects illustrates no obvious myth or legend, intriguing viewers with its mystery and exquisite grace. Instead of telling a story, each carefully chosen color, pattern, and shape in A Garden is arranged to create a poem in paint.

    Notes
    1. Susan Hobbs, “Thomas Wilmer Dewing: The Early Years, 1851–1885,” American Art Journal 13, no. 2 (Spring 1981): 24.

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

    Inscription

    Lower left: T.W. Dewing. 1883; Reverse: A Garden. Thomas W. Dewing. N.Y.

    Provenance

    1883, sold by the artist to Thomas B. Clarke (1848-1931), New York; 1899, Thomas B. Clarke collection sale to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), Detroit; by 1901, gift from Freer to Stanford White (1853-1906), New York. After 1906, purchased by John Gellatly (1853-1931), New York. Before 1933, George H. Webster, Haverhill, Mass.; 1934, bequest of George H. Webster to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 5, 1934)

    Credit Line

    Bequest of George H. Webster

    Details

    Dimensions

    40.32 x 101.6 cm (15 7/8 x 40 in.)

    Accession Number

    34.131

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Robert P. and Carol T. Henderson Gallery (Gallery 228)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Paintings

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  • Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

    1897–98
    Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903)

    Description

    In 1891, Gauguin left France for Tahiti, seeking in the South Seas a society that was simpler and more elemental than that of his homeland. In Tahiti, he created paintings that express a highly personal mythology. He considered this work—created in 1897, at a time of great personal crisis—to be his masterpiece and the summation of his ideas. Gauguin’s letters suggest that the fresco-like painting should be read from right to left, beginning with the sleeping infant. He describes the various figures as pondering the questions of human existence given in the title; the blue idol represents “the Beyond.” The old woman at the far left, “close to death,” accepts her fate with resignation.

    Inscription

    Upper left: D'ou Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous; Upper right: P. Gauguin / 1897

    Provenance

    1898, sent by the artist in Tahiti to Georges Daniel de Monfreid (b. 1856 - d. 1929), Paris; consigned by Monfreid and his agent to Ambroise Vollard (b. 1867 - d. 1939), Paris [see note 1]; 1901, sold by Vollard to Gabriel Frizeau (b. 1870 - d. 1938), Bordeaux [see note 2]; probably 1913, sold by Frizeau to the Galérie Barbazanges, Paris; before 1920, sold by Barbazanges to J. B. Stang, Oslo; 1935, probably sold by Stang to Alfred Gold, Berlin and Paris [see note 4]. 1936, Marie Harriman Gallery, New York [see note 5]; 1936, sold by the Harriman Gallery to the MFA for $80,000. (Accession Date: April 16, 1936) NOTES: [1] The painting was exhibited at the Galerie Ambroise Vollard, November 17 - December 10, 1898. [2] On Frizeau's acquisition and sale of the painting, see Claire Frêches-Thory, "Le premier acheteur d'Où venons-nous? Le collectionneur bordelais, Gabriel Frizeau (1870 - 1938) et ses rapports avec Gauguin," in Rencontres Gauguin à Tahiti: actes du colloque 20 et 21 juin 1989 (Papeete, 1989), pp. 48 - 56. The Galérie Barbazanges exhibited the painting in 1914. [3] The Galérie Barbazanges sought to buy the painting back from Stang in 1920; see Frêches-Thory (as above, n. 2), p. 51. [4] A letter of February 1, 1935 to the dealer Germain Seligmann, held by the Archives of American Art (Seligmann papers, box 426), states that the dealer Alfred Gold said the painting was still the property of Stang ("la grand Gauguin était toujours la proprieté de Stang") and that it would be included in the forthcoming Brussels exhibition. The writer has not been identified. Later that year, Gold lent the painting to the exhibition "L'impressionisme," Palais de Beaux-Arts, Brussels, June 15 - September 29, 1935, cat. no. 28. Gold purchased other works from the Stang collection, and almost certainly acquired this painting directly from him. [5] A letter from the supervisor of Museum Education at the MFA (April 21, 1936) states that Marie Harriman acquired the painting in Paris. It was exhibited at her New York gallery, April 22 - May 9, 1936.

    Credit Line

    Tompkins Collection—Arthur Gordon Tompkins Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Wildenstein 561

    Dimensions

    Image: 139.1 x 374.6 cm (54 3/4 x 147 1/2 in.) Framed: 171.5 x 406.4 x 8.9 cm (67 1/2 x 160 x 3 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    36.270

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    Out on Loan

    On display at Beyeler Museum AG, February 7, 2015 – June 28, 2015

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

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  • Head of Cyrus Brought to Queen Tomyris

    about 1622–23
    Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640)

    Description

    Rubens stages the story of Queen Tomyris, who defeated the Persian king Cyrus and had his head bathed in blood in revenge for his treacherous role in the death of her son. The painting may have been commissioned by Rubens’s patron Archduchess Isabella, ruler of the Southern Netherlands, to symbolize just retribution by a virtuous monarch. Pageants and processions in Isabella’s honor had linked her with Tomyris and other warrior queens of antiquity. The painting was probably designed by Rubens and largely executed by studio assistants, under his supervision. Rubens’s sons served as models for the pages at left.

    Provenance

    Probably Isabella Clara Eugenia (b. 1566 - d. 1633), Infanta of Spain, Brussels; by inheritance to Cardinal Infante Ferdinand (b. 1609 or 1610 - d. 1641), Brussels; 1643, sold in Brussels to an anonymous buyer [see note 1]. 1645, Matthijs Musson, Antwerp [see note 2]. By 1662, Christina, Queen of Sweden (b. 1626 - d. 1689), Rome [see note 3]; bequeathed by Queen Christina to Cardinal Decio Azzolino (b. 1623 - d. 1689), Rome; by inheritance to his nephew, Marchese Pompeo Azzolino (d. 1696), Rome [see note 4]; 1692, sold by Pompeo Azzolino to Livio Odescalchi (b. 1652 - d. 1713), Duke of Bracciano, Rome; by inheritance to his nephew, Baldassare Erba Odescalchi (d. 1746), Rome; 1721, sold by Odescalchi to Pierre Crozat (b. 1665 - d. 1740), Paris, for Philippe II (b. 1674 - d. 1723), Duc d'Orléans, Paris [see note 5]; by descent within the House of Orléans to Louis-Philippe-Joseph (b. 1747 - d. 1793), Duc d'Orléans, Paris; 1792/93, sold from the Orléans collection to Thomas Moore Slade, London [see note 6]; April 1793, private sale of the Orléans collection through Slade, London, to John Bligh Darnley (b. 1767 - d. 1831), 4th Earl of Darnley, Cobham Hall, Kent, for 1200 guineas; until at least 1914, by descent within the family to Ivo Francis Walter Darnley (b. 1859 - d. 1927), 8th Earl of Darnley, Cobham Hall [see note 7]. 1919, acquired by Henry George Charles Lascelles (b. 1882 - d. 1947), 6th Earl of Harewood, Harewood House, Yorkshire [see note 8]; 1941, sold by Harewood to Robert Langton Douglas for the MFA for $53,500. (Accession Date: February 13, 1941) NOTES: [1] According to a letter from the Brussels art dealer P. Christyn to the Antwerp art merchant Matthijs Musson (December 16, 1643), an unidentified man had recently purchased six large Rubens paintings from the "Hof," or palace of the dukes of Brabant in Brussels. Among these was "the head of Cyrus which is being presented to a queen, with many accompanying figures, that is very well painted." The six paintings were probably owned by the Infanta Isabella and were passed along at her death to the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, then sold after his death in 1641. See Robert W. Berger, "Rubens's 'Queen Tomyris with the Head of Cyrus,'" MFA Bulletin 77 (1979): 11-12. He suggests that Isabella commissioned the painting around 1622/23 as an allegory of her power and virtue (see pp. 22-23). [2] Musson drew up a stock of paintings that were to be offered for sale to Amalia von Solms (October 26, 1645), designated "pictures which come from the Infant[e]", that is, Ferdinand of Austria and which included "a picture of King Cyrus whose head is placed in his blood, with fifteen figures, quite pleasant, by Rubens, life size." See Berger 1979 (as above, n. 1), p. 11. In the MFA picture are fifteen clearly legible figures (two armored guards obscured at the right, which may account for the discrepancy). [3] The painting was listed in inventories of Queen Christina's collection in Rome in 1662 (probable date of document), 1688, and 1689. Five of the six Rubens paintings named in Christyn's 1643 letter (cited above, note 1) ended up in Queen Christina's collection. See Berger 1979 (as above, n. 1), p. 14. [4] Christina bequeathed her collection to her close friend, Cardinal Decio Azzolino. He died only months after she did, leaving the collection to his nephew, who sold nearly all of it. [5] Philippe d'Orléans sought to acquire Queen Christina's collection of paintings as early as 1714, when he first sent Crozat to Rome to negotiate a purchase. The contract for sale was not drawn up until 1721. [6] Thomas Moore Slade, Baron George Kinnaird, and Mr. Morland and Mr. Hammersley sought to acquire the entire Orléans collection of paintings as early as June, 1792, but were unsuccessful. Subsequently, after the Italian paintings had been sold, Slade returned to Paris to negotiate the purchase of the Dutch and Flemish pictures. His offer was accepted and he took the paintings with him to England, where he sold them privately in 1793. See William Buchanan, Memoirs of Painting (London, 1824), vol. 1, 159 - 164. [7] Lord Darnley lent the painting to the exhibition "L'art belge au XVIIe siècle," (Brussels, June - November, 1910), cat. no. 407. In 1914, the MFA considered purchasing the painting through Richard Norton, at that time in England; Norton acted as an art expert on behalf of the museum. He wrote to MFA director Arthur Fairbanks (March 12, 1914) that Lord Darnley was preparing to sell some of his pictures and recommended the Rubens painting of Queen Tomyris with the Head of Cyrus for the museum. However, the trustees declined to purchase it. [8] According to a letter from Robert Langton Douglas to Charles C. Cunningham of the MFA (June 25, 1941; in MFA curatorial file). Douglas did not specify whether it was acquired directly from the Darnley family.

    Credit Line

    Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    205.1 x 361 cm (80 3/4 x 142 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    41.40

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    William I. Koch Gallery (Gallery 250)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

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  • Chest-on-chest

    1806–09
    Design and carving attributed to Samuel McIntire (American, 1757–1811)

    Object Place, Salem, Massachusetts

    Description

    A masterpiece of American furniture, this is likely the “Case of mahogany drawers $55” listed in the inventory as being in “Madame Derby’s” bedchamber. The carving is indicative of McIntire’s late career, when his skills were at their height. The central basket brimming with flowers and the allegorical figure of America appear elsewhere in his carving, as do the urns, which relate to his carving above the door in the Oak Hill parlor. Elizabeth Derby’s interest in the neoclassical style, in symbols of America, and in preserving the traditions of her distinguished family is clear in this chest. The overall form-inspired by eighteenth-century, Rococo case furniture-also relates to other examples of this form purchased from Boston and Salem craftsmen by members of the Derby family.

    Provenance

    Said to have been made for Elizabeth Derby West; by descent in the Derby family of Salem to the Curtis family of Boston; purchased in 1939 for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts from nine members of the Curtis family, including Miss Frances G. Curtis; Gift of Maxim Karolik, 1941.

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-Century American Arts No. 41

    Dimensions

    Overall: 229.6 x 118.7 cm (90 3/8 x 46 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    41.580

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, mahogany veneer, ebony and satinwood inlay, pine

    On View

    James and Darcy Marsh Gallery (Gallery 121D)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case Furniture and Boxes

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  • Portrait of a Man and Woman in an Interior

    1665–1667
    Eglon van der Neer (Dutch, 1634–1703)

    Description

    An affluent couple is seated comfortably in their handsome room, with embossed leather covering the wall and a Persian carpet on the table. Dutch artists often depicted paintings within paintings to comment on their subjects, and here the image of Venus over the mantel may allude to the couple’s marital harmony. When van der Neer’s painting entered the Museum’s collection in 1941, Venus had been over-painted with a sedate landscape, reflecting the more straitlaced taste of a later age.

    Inscription

    Lower right: E. vander Neer f.

    Provenance

    February 17, 1802, anonymous ("M. W...") sale, Rue de Bouloy, Paris, lot 27 [see note 1]. May 17, 1824, anonymous sale, Hôtel de Bullion, Paris, lot 48 [see note 2]. 1841, Charles-August-Louis Joseph (b. 1811 - d. 1865), Duc de Morny; April 27, 1841, Morny sale, G. Benou, Paris, lot 17, unsold; November 25, 1842, Morny sale, Paillet, Paris, lot 14, unsold; February 25-26, 1845, Morny sale, Hôtel des Ventes, Paris, lot 63 [see note 3], sold for 1,505 francs to Cousin. Désiré van den Schrieck (b. 1786 - d. 1857), Louvain; April 8-10, 1861, posthumous Schrieck sale, at his gallery, Louvain, lot 68, sold to Ferdinand Laneuville (d. 1866) for 3,500 francs, possibly for the Comte Duchâtel, Paris [see note 4]. By 1934, Robert Lebel (b. 1901 - d. 1986), Paris [see note 5]; between 1934 and 1936, sold by Lebel to Walter Westfeld (b. 1889 - d. after 1942), Elberfeld (Wuppertal) and Düsseldorf, Germany [see note 6]. 1941, E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York [see note 7]; 1941, sold by Silberman to the MFA for $7500. (Accession Date: December 11, 1941) NOTES: [1] Described as a work on panel by Eglon van der Neer, 27 by 25 inches, depicting a Dutch couple whose black dress indicates they are a burgomaster and his wife, sitting in an interior with a fireplace and a table with fruit on it. [2] Eddy Schavemaker kindly provided this information. [3] The paintings included in the February 1845 sale were sold on Morny's behalf under the name of Jean-Jacques Meffre, who served as his art advisor and painting conservator. See Robin Emlein, "La Collection du duc de Morny, Étude du goût pour les écoles du Nord en France au XIXe siècle," Master's thesis, École du Louvre, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 41-44 and vol. 2, pp. 121-122 (cat. B100). [4] Émile Leclercq, "Correspondance Particulière," Gazette des Beaux-Arts 1861, pp. 180-181. Laneuville, an expert at the sale, was also buying for the Comte Duchâtel. This painting, however, does not appear in subsequent sales of paintings from the Comte Duchâtel collection. [5] The painting was included in the exhibition held at Robert Lebel's gallery at 13, rue de Seine, Paris, "Une Collection de Tableaux de Petits Maitres Hollandais & Flamands," December 11-28, 1934, cat. no. 25. An old photograph of the painting exists in Lebel's photographic archive; it is annotated on the back: "Eglon van der Neer." [6] Robert Lebel visited the MFA on October 8, 1943 and told curator W. G. Constable that he had sold this painting to Walter Westfeld around 1937. According to a letter from Walter Westfeld's brother to the MFA (February 6, 1944), Lebel had written to him in the fall of 1943 as well, stating that around 1935/1936 he had sold the painting to Westfeld, who had it at the Galerie Kleucker and "at a time, in Amsterdam." A painting described as a Company Scene by Eglon van der Neer, which is probably the present painting, was exhibited at the Galerie August Kleucker, Düsseldorf, in mid-May, 1936. [7] A photograph of the painting, supplied to the MFA by Silberman, bears W. R. Valentiner's authentication on the reverse, dated May 15, 1941. The painting was first offered to the MFA on June 3, 1941. A subsequent letter from dealer Abris Silberman to W. G. Constable of the MFA (June 3, 1942) states that "the painting was brought to this country by a refugee some time ago" but had never been in a U.S. collection. Attempts to determine when and how Silberman acquired the work have not been successful. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: In 1920 Walter Westfeld opened a gallery that bore his name in Elberfeld (present-day Wuppertal). However, under the Nazi regime he was forced to discontinue his business because he was Jewish; the Galerie Walter Westfeld officially closed on May 27, 1936. Several months later, his associate August Kleucker was put in charge of liquidating the gallery stock through the Galerie Kleucker in Düsseldorf. It is not known whether this painting had formed part of Westfeld's gallery stock or whether he owned it privately, thus it is not known if it was part of the 1936 liquidation through Kleucker. In the fall of 1937, Westfeld was forced to turn over to the Gestapo a list of all the works of art still in his possession; the Van der Neer does not appear on this list. Whether it was no longer in Westfeld's possession at this time, or had been deliberately left off the list, is uncertain. In November 1938 Westfeld was arrested for foreign exchange violations. He was subsequently found guilty of having -- after the closure of his gallery -- illegally shipped works of art and other assets abroad, to Paris and Amsterdam, and of continuing to sell his own works of art through Kleucker. Whether the Van der Neer left his possession in one of these ways is not known. According to correspondence from a family member to the MFA (November 11, 2004), Westfeld had paintings and other valuables at the Rotterdamse Wisselbank in Amsterdam as late as 1939; again, it is not known if the Van der Neer could have been among these. The valuables were apparently taken unlawfully and sold during World War II, and remain untraced. In 1939 Nazi authorities seized Westfeld's remaining art assets in Germany and auctioned them through Lempertz, Cologne, on December 12-13, 1939. The Van der Neer painting was not included in this sale. After Westfeld's trial in Nazi Germany, he served a prison sentence at Lüttringhausen. In 1942 he was sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and, in 1943, to Auschwitz. He was declared deceased at the end of World War II. In June, 2011 the MFA reached a financial settlement with the heirs and the estate of Walter Westfeld for the Portrait of a Man and Woman in an Interior, allowing the work to remain at the museum. This was based on a review of the above research, which outlines a limited number of ways the painting could have left his possession. It seems unlikely that Westfeld gave or sold the painting voluntarily after the closure of his gallery in May, 1936. Rather, as a Jewish art dealer living in Nazi Germany, he probably disposed of it due to persecution. Bibliography: Herbert Schmidt, Der Elendsweg der Düsseldorfer Juden: Chronologie des Schreckens, 1933-1945 (Düsseldorf: Droste, 2005), pp. 273-278; Victoria S. Reed, "Walter Westfeld (1889-1943?), Art Dealer in Nazi Germany," in Vitalizing Memory: International Perspectives in Provenance Research (Washington, DC: American Association of Museums, 2005); and Monika Tatzkow, in Verlorene Bilder, Verlorene Leben: Jüdische Sammler und was aus ihren Kunstwerken wurde (Munich, 2009), pp. 87-97.

    Credit Line

    Seth K. Sweetser Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    73.9 x 67.6 cm (29 1/8 x 26 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    41.935

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on panel

    Not On View

    Collections

    Europe

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    Paintings

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  • The Tea

    Le Thé

    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

    Inscription

    Signed lower left: Mary Cassatt

    Provenance

    About 1881, sold by the artist to Henri Rouart (1833-1912), Paris; Dec. 9-11, 1912, Henri Rouart sale, Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Paris, lot 9, to Dikran G. Kelekian (1868-1951), Paris; 1942, sold by Dikran Kelekian to the MFA for $6,000. (Accession Date: April 9, 1942)

    Credit Line

    M. Theresa B. Hopkins Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Breeskin 78

    Dimensions

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

    Accession Number

    42.178

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Suzanne and Terrence Murray Gallery (Gallery 226)

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  • Nocturne in Blue and Silver: The Lagoon, Venice

    1879–80
    James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American (active in England), 1834–1903)

    Description

    Like Mary Cassatt [42.178], James Abbott McNeill Whistler lived an expatriate life abroad. One of the nineteenth century’s most influential painters, Whistler was also one of its most colorful personalities. He ignored his roots in Lowell, Massachusetts, preferring people to believe he had been born in Russia, where his father had been an engineer. He first earned acclaim in 1863 in Paris, where he had worked with some of the city’s most avant-garde painters, including the realist champion Gustave Courbet [18.620]. Whistler shocked the art establishment when his Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl (1862, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) was exhibited at the infamous Salon des Refusés in Paris, a display of paintings that had been rejected from the official state-sponsored Salon exhibition. Many found indecent and incomprehensible his forthright image of a woman with her hair down, standing on a fur rug with a bouquet discarded at her feet. Whistler relished the controversy and courted such opportunities throughout his career.
    The artist’s only trip to Venice came at the close of another such episode. One of Britain’s most influential critics, John Ruskin, had accused Whistler of defrauding the public by exhibiting an abstract image of fireworks at night. Whistler sued Ruskin for libel in 1878, and while he won his case, he was awarded only one farthing in damages. [1]Whistler was bankrupt, and in consequence he took a commission the following year from London’s Fine Art Society to produce a series of prints of Venice. He spent about fifteen months in the watery city, living in reduced circumstances and borrowing many of his supplies from the admiring community of young American painters he befriended there. While he made over fifty Venetian etchings [33.15] and ninety pastels, Whistler produced only three paintings in oil, including Nocturne in Blue and Silver: The Lagoon, Venice.

    Venice’s mysterious elegance was particularly suited to Whistler’s style. He rejected meticulous representation, preferring instead to paint mood and atmosphere and seeking to express beauty in the line, color, and arrangement of his compositions. Fascinated with the art of Japan, as were many of his contemporaries, Whistler explored flattened pictorial space and subtle arrangements of color and shape. He likened his paintings to music, often naming them after particular musical forms such as the nocturne, popularized by Frederic Chopin; symphony; harmony [60.1158]; and arrangement. In this composition, painted from the Piazzetta near the Royal Gardens, the sparkling colors of Venice are reduced to an ethereal blue and grayish silver that seem to mimic the city’s elusive structure. In the background, the silhouette of the church of San Giorgio Maggiore hovers without substance, while the distant lights of the strand at the Lido glimmer along the horizon. Whistler has captured Venice in the way the poet Lord Byron had described it—a “fairy city of the heart.”[2]

    Notes
    1. See Richard Dorment, “Whistler v. Ruskin,” in James McNeill Whistler, by Richard Dorment and Margaret F. MacDonald, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1994), 136–38; Linda Merrill, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in Whistler v. Ruskin (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992).
    2. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, canto 4, stanza 18.

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

    Inscription

    Lower right: butterfly cartouche; Reverse: Nocturne Blue & Silver/The Lagoon Venice—/by J. McNeill Whistler—

    Provenance

    1879-80, the artist; November 25, 1903, Hotel Drouot, Paris, lot 1 to William S. Marchant of Goupil Gallery, London; 1904, sold by Goupil Gallery to Richard A. Canfield (1855-1914), New York; 1914, sold by Richard Canfield to M. Knoedler & Co., New York; 1914, sold by M. Knoedler & Co. to Anna Blaksley Barnes (Mrs. William H.) Bliss (1851-1935), New York; by descent to her daughter, Mildred Barnes (Mrs. Robert Woods) Bliss (1879-1969), Washington, D.C.; 1942, sold by Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss to the MFA for $9,000. (Accession Date: June 9, 1942)

    Credit Line

    Emily L. Ainsley Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    50.16 x 65.4 cm (19 3/4 x 25 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    42.302

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Robert P. and Carol T. Henderson Gallery (Gallery 228)

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  • Altarpiece - Guardian Lion (right)

    Chinese
    Sui dynasty, 13th year of the Kaihuang era
    dated A.D. 593

    Description

    Provenance

    Late nineteenth century, excavated in the vicinity of the Zhaozhou Bridge, Hebei, China. Duan Fang (b. 1861- d. 1911), China. By 1945, Charles Rutherston, England; 1945, Mrs. Christopher Powell and Mrs. Charles Rutherston; 1947, sold by Mrs. Christopher Powell and Mrs. Charles Rutherston to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 9, 1947)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by Edward Jackson Holmes in memory of his mother, Mrs. W. Scott Fitz

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 9 x 7.2 x 4.3 cm (3 9/16 x 2 13/16 x 1 11/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    47.1407

    Medium or Technique

    Lost-wax cast bronze with inscription

    Not On View

    Collections

    Asia

    Classifications

    Metalwork

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  • Sons of Liberty Bowl

    1768
    Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)

    Object Place, Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    The Liberty Bowl honored ninety-two members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter sent throughout the colonies protesting the Townshend Acts (1767), which taxed tea, paper, glass, and other commodities imported from England. This act of civil disobedience by the “Glorious Ninety-Two” was a major step leading to the American Revolution. The bowl was commissioned by fifteen members of the Sons of Liberty, a secret, revolutionary organization to which Revere belonged; their names are engraved on the bowl as are references to Englishman John Wilkes, whose writing in defense of liberty inspired American patriots. The Liberty Bowl, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution have been called the nation’s three most cherished historical treasures. The bowl was purchased by the Museum in 1949, with funds that included seven hundred donations by Boston schoolchildren and the public.

    Inscribed below the rim: “Caleb Hopkins, Nathl barber, John White, Willm Mackay, Danl Malcom, Benjn Goodwin, John Welsh, Fortescue Vernon, Danl Parker, John Marston, Ichbod Jones, John Homer, Willm Bowes, Peter Boyer, Benja Cobb.”

    One side, in a circle with a scroll and foliated frame topped by a Liberty cap flanked by flags is engraved: “Magna/Charta” and “Bill of/Rights.” Inside the circle is inscribed: “No45. /Wilkes & Liberty” over a torn page labeled “Generall/Warrants.”

    Inscribed on the other side, a Liberty Cap in a wreath above leafy scrolls: “To the Memory of the glorious NINETY-TWO: Members/of the Honbl House of Representatives of the Massachusetts-Bay/who, undaunted by the insolent Menaces of Villains in Power/from a Strict Regard to Conscience, and the LIBERTIES/of their Constituents, on the 30th of June 1768 /Voted NOT TO RESCIND.”

    Inscription

    Engraved in script below the rim "Caleb Hopkins, Nathl Barber, John White, Willm Mackay, Danl Malcom, Benjm Goodwin, John Welsh, Fortescue Vernon, Danl Parker, John Marston, Ichabod Jones, John Homer, Wilm Bowes, Peter Boyer, Benja Cobb." On one side in a bright-cut circle with a scroll and foliate frame topped by a Liberty Cap flanked by flags inscribed, respectively, "Magna / Charta" and "Bill of / Rights" is "No 45. / Wilkes & Liberty" over a torn page labeled "Generall Warrants." On the opposite side, a Liberty Cap in a wreath is centered above horizontal and longer vertical leafy scrolls partly enclosing the famous inscription, "To the Memory of the glorious NINETY-TWO: Members / of the Honbl House of Representatives of the Massachusetts-Bay, / who, undaunted by the insolent Menaces of Villains in Power, / from a Strict Regard to Conscience, and the LIBERTIES / of their Constituents, on the 30th of June 1768, / Voted NOT TO RESCIND." There is no lower line for the frame but a vertical device of conjoining open loops in below "TO." Beginning at the right of this scroll has been added since 1875 in script and block letters: "This BOWL commemorative of Events prior to the American Revolution, was purchased of the Associates whose names are inscribed upon its surface, by Wm MACKAY, one of their number, from whom upon the demise of the latter, in Feby 1832, it became the property of Wm MACKAY, his Grandson in direct line, a Resident of the City of New York." In small script beginning under City: "The Associates were Citizens of Boston." On the bottom above the center point: "at whose death in 1873, it / passed into the hands of his / Brother Robt C. MACKAY on Mar. 11, 1902 / transferred it to MARIAN LINCOLN PERRY / of Providence, Rhode Island / a great great grand-daughter of JOHN MARSTON / one of the fifteen associates."

    Provenance

    : See inscription. When the bowl was to be sold in 1948, Mark Bortman of Boston headed a committee to purchase the piece for the Museum. Purchased from Marsden J. Perry of Providence in January 1949 for $52,500.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by contribution and Francis Bartlett Donation of 1912

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 14 x 27.9 cm (5 1/2 x 11 in.) Other (Base): 14.8cm (5 13/16in.)

    Accession Number

    49.45

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

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  • The Procuress

    1622
    Dirck van Baburen (Dutch, 1590 to 1595–1624)

    Description

    Baburen was one of several painters from Utrecht, in Holland, who went to study and work in Rome. Profoundly influenced by the Italian painter Caravaggio and his followers, they specialized in close-up views of large, half-length figures, solidly modelled with emphatic contrasts of light and shadow. Here, an amorous suitor barters with an elderly, turbanned woman for the favors of a cheerful young woman. The lute, symbol of love, occupies the center of the composition; the gestures of the hands that surround it tell the painting’s story.

    Inscription

    Lower left, on base of lute: TBaburen f 16 [...] (T anb B joined)

    Provenance

    1641, possibly Maria Thins (b. about 1593 - d. 1680), Delft [see note 1]; possibly by inheritance to her daughter, Catharina Bolnes (b. 1631 - d. 1688) and her husband, Johannes Vermeer (b. 1632 - d. 1675), Delft [see note 2]; possibly by inheritance to their son, Johannes Johannesz. Vermeer (b. about 1663 - d. 1713), Delft [see note 3]. Possibly Sir Hans Sloane (b. 1660 - d. 1753), London [see note 4]; possibly by descent within the Sloane family to Lt. Col. Ronald Francis Assheton Sloane-Stanley (b. 1867 - d. 1949), Cowes, Isle of Wight; February 25, 1949, Sloane-Stanley sale, Christie's, London, lot 52 [see note 5], to Colnaghi on behalf of Roderic Thesiger (dealer), Beaconsfield, England; 1950, sold by Thesiger to the MFA for $1960. (Accession Date: June 8, 1950) NOTES: [1] Maria Thins (or Tin) was divorced from her husband, Reinier Bolnes, in 1641. A document of November 27, 1641 that divides the marital property lists "A painting of a procuress pointing in the hand" ("Een schilderije daer en coppelerste die in de hant wijst"); this has been identified with the MFA painting. See Albert Blankert, Vermeer of Delft: Complete edition of the paintings (Oxford: Phaidon, 1978), pp. 145-146, document 7. However, Wayne Franits has cast doubts on this hypothesis, suggesting instead that the Thins family owned a replica of the MFA work; see The Paintings of Dirck van Baburen, ca 1592/93 - 1624: Catalogue Raisonné (Amsterdam, 2013), cat. A23, pp. 128-129. [2] The artist Johannes Vermeer incorporated the MFA picture (or, possibly, a copy after it; see above, n. 1) into the background of two of his own paintings: The Concert, about 1665-66 (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston) and A Lady Seated at the Virginals, about 1673-75 (National Gallery, London). [3] Ben Broos, Great Dutch Paintings from America (exh. cat. Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1990), cat. no. 5, pp. 149-152. It is not known for certain what happened to the articles in the artist's estate after his death; Anthony van Leeuwenhoek was the estate adminstrator. [4] This painting has not been identified among the documents of the collector Sir Hans Sloane, but the fact that its owner in 1949, Col. Sloane-Stanley, was his descendent has led to the hypothesis that it was passed down in the family. When it was purchased in 1950, the painting's frame had an old, English language inscription on it, suggesting that it had been in England since the eighteenth or early nineteenth century. See Broos 1990 (as above, n. 3) and a letter from Thesiger to W. G. Constable of the MFA (March 15, 1950), in the MFA object file. [5] Attributed in the auction catalogue to Honthorst.

    Credit Line

    M. Theresa B. Hopkins Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    101.6 x 107.6 cm (40 x 42 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    50.2721

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Art of the Netherlands in the 17th Century Gallery (Gallery 242)

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    Europe

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  • Still Life in an Architectural Setting

    about 1645
    Jan Fyt (Flemish, 1611–1661), Erasmus Quellinus, the Younger (Flemish, 1607–1678)

    Description

    Provenance

    François Emmanuel van Ertborn (b. 1716 - d. 1791), Antwerp; August 18, 1807, posthumous Ertborn sale, Beeckmans, Antwerp, lot 42, to Henri-Joseph Stier d'Aertselaer, Antwerp; July 29, 1822, Aertselaer sale, G. J. Bincken, Antwerp, lot 25, to Paramosky (or Baranowsky), Vienna. Jean Baptiste Puthon (b. 1773 - d. 1839), Vienna; 1840, sold from the Puthon collection, probably through Artaria and Co., Vienna, to Philipp Dräxler von Carin, Vienna; probably sold by Dräxler von Carin to Baron Samuel von Festetits (b. 1806 - d. 1862), Vienna [see note 1]; March 7 and April 11, 1859, Festetits sale, Vienna, lot 101, to Friedrich Jakob Gsell (d. 1872), Vienna; March 14, 1872, Gsell sale, Plach, Vienna, lot 30, sold to Plach, possibly for Anselm Solomon von Rothschild (b. 1803 - d. 1874), Vienna; by descent to Nathaniel von Rothschild (b. 1836 - d. 1905), Vienna; by descent to his nephew, Alphonse Rothschild (b. 1878 - d. 1942) and Clarice de Rothschild (b. 1894 - d. 1967), Vienna; 1938, confiscated from Alphonse and Clarice de Rothschild by Nazi forces (no. AR884); taken to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, stored at the Central Depot, Neue Burg, Vienna, and selected for the Führermuseum, Linz [see note 2]; removed to the monastery of Kremsmünster (K 995); December 16, 1943, taken from Kremsmünster to the Führerbau, Munich (no. 3225) [see note 3] and later moved to Alt Aussee [see note 4]; July 19, 1945, shipped by Allied forces to the Munich Central Collecting Point (MCCP no. 4928) [see note 5]; May 11, 1948, released from the MCCP to United States Forces in Austria; April 12, 1949, returned to Clarice de Rothschild, New York [see note 6]; sold by Clarice de Rothschild to Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York; 1950, sold by Rosenberg and Stiebel to the MFA for $3,000. (Accession Date: September 14, 1950) NOTES: [1] On the provenance of this painting from Puthon to Gsell, see Theodor von Frimmel, "Lexikon der Wiener Gemäldesammlungen" (Munich, 1913), pp. 290, 375-376. Festetits acquired many works of art from Dräxler von Carin, and it is likely that he acquired this painting from him as well. [2] With the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany in March, 1938, the possessions of Alphonse and Clarice de Rothschild were seized and expropriated almost immediately by Nazi forces. This painting appears in a Nazi-generated inventory of 1939 as no. AR (Alphonse Rothschild) 884: "Jan Fyt, Architektur mit Stilleben. Leinwand, 112 x 83." Katalog beschlagnahmter Sammlungen, inbesondere der Rothschild-Sammlungen in Wien, Verlags-Nr. 4938, Staatsdruckerei Wien, 1939, Privatarchiv, reproduced in Sophie Lillie, "Was einmal war: Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens" (Vienna, 2003), p. 1032. The Führermuseum, the art museum Adolf Hitler planned to build in Linz, Austria, was given right of first refusal over the confiscated Rothschild collection. This painting was included in an inventory of the museum drawn up on July 31, 1940. CIR no. 4, attachment 73. [3] The Führerbau in Munich was used as a repository for works of art. An inventory of the paintings was drawn up in 1943; the Führerbau inventory number, 3225, is recorded on the reverse of this painting's stretcher in chalk and on a label. [4] Many works of art stored elsewhere by the Nazis were moved to the abandoned salt mines of Alt Aussee in Austria, to be kept safe from wartime bombing. [5] Allied troops recovered the artwork at the end of World War II and established collecting points where the art could be identified for restitution to its rightful owners. This painting came to the Munich Central Collecting Point in 1945 from Alt Aussee shipment number 3577, and was numbered 4928, which is recorded on the reverse of the painting stretcher. The Munich Central Collecting Point inventory card is held by the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland (Property Card 4928; National Archives Record Group 260, Box 501; and National Archives Record Group 260, Entry USACA-USFA; File Rep & Rest. Box 158). [6] See Birgit Schwarz, "Hitlers Museum. Die Fotoalben Gemäldegalerie Linz: Dokumente zum 'Führermuseum'" (Cologne and Weimar, 2004), p. 101, no. II/26.

    Credit Line

    Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    112.4 x 82.9 cm (44 1/4 x 32 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    50.2728

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    Not On View

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  • Court cupboard

    1685–90

    Object Place, Northern Essex County, prob. Ipswich or Newbury, Massachusetts

    Description

    The cupboard–used to store textiles and to display silver, glass, ceramics, and other costly wares–was among the most expensive and prominent articles of domestic furniture. This example is richly embellished with almost the full vocabulary of seventeenth-century ornament: shallow relief carving; crisp turnings; moldings derived from architectural sources; and decoration painted black, in imitation of ebony. Period inventories mention fine linen covering the tops of cupboards, such as the “two diaper cuberd cloaths” and “one hollond one” in the 1691 inventory of Jonathan Avery of Dedham.

    Provenance

    Said to have been bought by Zachariah Allen at the sale of the John Hancock house in Boston. It descended to Mrs. Charles Sprague Sargent, who gave it to William Robeson, who took it to Brussels, from whence it returned to the Museum.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Maurice Geeraerts in memory of Mr. and Mrs. William R. Robeson

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 20

    Dimensions

    149.22 x 123.19 x 49.21 cm (58 3/4 x 48 1/2 x 19 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    51.53

    Medium or Technique

    Oak, maple, white pine

    On View

    Brown-Pearl Hall (Gallery LG35)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case Furniture and Boxes

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  • Virgin and Child

    French (Soissons?)
    Medieval (Gothic)
    1210–25
    Unidentified artist

    Description

    Provenance

    Acquired in France by Joseph Mezzara (b. 1820 - d. 1901), Paris [see note 1]; by inheritance to his daughter, Mme. Marthe Ida Mezzara Dufet, Paris; 1942, sold by Mme. Dufet to Walter Bornheim (b. 1888), Cologne; taken by Bornheim to Munich for conservation and displayed at the Galerie Alte Kunst [see note 2]; 1942, exchanged by Bornheim with Dr. Otto H. Förster, General Director for Museum of the City of Cologne, for the Wallraf-Richartz Museum [see note 3]; taken to Tegernsee, near Munich [see note 4]; 1945, collected by Allied forces and returned to France [see note 5]; restituted to Mme. Dufet; 1959, sold by Mme. Dufet to the MFA. (Accession Date: May 14, 1959) NOTES: [1] According to Hanns Swarzenski, "A Vierge d'Orée," MFA Bulletin 58 (1960): 78, the sculptor Joseph Mezzara discovered the Virgin and Child while conducting conservation work in an abandoned chapel near Conflans, France. Mezzara took the sculpture to Paris around 1900. [2] Following World War II, Walter Bornheim was interrogated by the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services for his activities on behalf of Hermann Göring. According to this report (September 15, 1945), Bornheim negotiated with Mme. Dufet for several months before purchasing the sculpture. He was granted an export license and took the sculpture to Munich for conservation work, first at the Doerner Institute, and, in Cologne, by Frau Brabenden. This account is corroborated by Bornheim's testimony in a letter to Hanns Swarzenski of the MFA (March 10, 1960). [3] Although Bornheim worked for Göring during the war, he claimed (ALIU report; see above, n. 2) that he had wanted the sculpture to go to a German museum rather than to Göring. Göring agreed to give up his right of first refusal. Bornheim exchanged the sculpture and a painting by Lancret with the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, for 300,000 RM and sixteen pictures; Göring took four of these for having ceded his rights. Press accounts mistakenly claimed that Göring himself had acquired the sculpture (see, for example, Life, December 7, 1959, p. 101, and Connoisseur, May 1960, p. 212). [4] Presumably the sculpture was removed to Tegernsee by the city of Cologne for safe keeping. [5] Hans Förster claimed in a letter to Hanns Swarzenski (December 17, 1959) that the sculpture rightly belonged to the Museums of the City of Cologne, and referred to Tegernsee as its "hiding place." However, as Swarzenski stated in his response (February 9, 1960), the restitution to France was done according to Military Government regulations (Title 18, Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives) as wartime sales to German buyers in occupied countries were considered invalid. This was agreed upon by the Allies in "The Declaration of London" (January 5, 1943), reproduced in Elizabeth Simpson, ed., The Spoils of War (New York, 1997), Appendix 9, p. 287. Additional directives relevant to the sculpture's restitution are laid out in a letter from Hayden N. Smith, New York, to Andrew Ritchie, New Haven (January 8, 1960; in MFA curatorial file).

    Credit Line

    William Francis Warden Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    154.9 x 53.3 x 45.1 cm (61 x 21 x 17 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    59.701

    Medium or Technique

    Wood with polychromy and gilding

    On View

    Museum Council Gallery (Gallery 254)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Self-Portrait as a Warrior

    Austrian (Vienna)
    1909
    Oskar Kokoschka (Austrian, 1886–1980)

    Description

    Bust. Head turned right. Open mouth showing white teeth. Blue eyes, various red, blue and yellow on face and hair.

    Signed

    Signed on right shoulder: OK

    Provenance

    1909 until 1933, Adolf Loos (b. 1870 - d. 1933), Vienna [see note 1]; acquired from the estate of Loos by Helene Scheu-Riesz (b. 1880 - d. 1970), Vienna and New York; 1956, still with Scheu-Riesz [see note 2]. By 1958, World House Galleries, New York; 1960, sold by World House Galleries to the MFA for $7,000. (Accession Date: September 21, 1960) NOTES: [1] The artist exhibited this sculpture at the first Internationale Kunstschau, Vienna (May - September, 1909), where it was purchased by the architect Adolf Loos. [2] Helene Scheu-Riesz and her husband, Gustav Scheu, were friends with Adolf Loos. According to a letter from Scheu-Riesz to Friedrich Welz of the Galerie Welz, Salzburg (May 23, 1956; copy of letter kindly provided by Dr. Johann Winkler): "it came into my possession from the estate of Adolf Loos and I brought it with me when I immigrated to New York in 1937 - it is being kept by friends." While the sculpture was in Scheu-Riesz's possession, it was lent under the name of the Blanche Bonestell Gallery to the exhibitions "Kokoschka," Buchholz Gallery, New York (October 27-November 15, 1941), cat. no. 5 and "Oskar Kokoschka: A Retrospective Exhibition," Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1948, cat. no. 63. Whether the Bonestell Gallery was taking care of the bust at the time the 1956 letter was written is unknown; at this date Scheu-Riesz was offering it for sale. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The Third Reich denigrated modern art and artists like Kokoschka. The Nazi party seized what it called "degenerate art" from German museums, selling the objects for foreign currency or destroying them. To further demonstrate to the German people what type of art was unacceptable, the Nazis sponsored an exhibition called "Degenerate Art" (Entartete Kunst), which opened in Munich in 1937 and toured Germany and Austria until 1941. The show included hundreds of objects seized from German collections. Self-Portrait as Warrior was illustrated as an example of "degenerate art" in reviews of Entartete Kunst at its Stettin and Vienna venues, in the journals Stettiner General-Anzeiger (January 24, 1939) and Die Pause (June 1939). It was also illustrated in the third edition of the exhibition catalogue. It was not actually exhibited, however; as Helene Scheu-Riesz attested, she had already brought it to the United States in 1937. Old photographs were used each time it was reproduced, indicating the Nazis could not obtain the original sculpture.

    Credit Line

    John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund

    Copyright

    © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Pro Litteris, Zurich.

    Details

    Dimensions

    36.5 x 31.5 x 19.5 cm (14 3/8 x 12 3/8 x 7 11/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    60.958

    Medium or Technique

    Unfired clay painted with tempera

    On View

    Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery (Gallery 155)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Caudle cup

    about 1690
    John Coney (American, 1655 or 1656–1722)

    Description

    Gourd-shaped, embossed on lower half of body with figure of child coming from flower on each side and varoius flowers (tulips carnations and daisies?). Plain neck with moulded rim. Beaded and scrolled cast handles with woman’s head on shoulders.

    Inscription

    Engraved IMM in block letters on bottom and Oliver Wendell Holmes in later script on neck.

    Markings

    IC fleur-de-lis below in shaped heart on bottom and neck.

    Provenance

    John and Mary (Brattle) Mico, m. 1689; by inheritance to Jacob Wendell (1691-1761) of Albany, who worked for John Mico; by descent to Mr and Mrs Edward Jackson Holmes (1); 1930, lent by Mr and Mrs Holmes to the MFA; 1941, returned; 1960, re-lent by Mrs. Holmes; 1965, bequest of Mrs. Holmes to the MFa. (Accession date: March 10, 1965) 1: Jacob m. 1714 Sarah Oliver; their son Oliver m. 1762 Mary Jackson; their daughter Sarah, m. 1801 Rev Abiel Holmes; their son Oliver Wendell Holmes, m. 1840 Amelia Lee Jackson; their son Oliver Wendell Holmes m. 1861 Fanny Dixwell; his nephew Edward Jackson Holmes.

    Credit Line

    The Edward Jackson Holmes Collection—Bequest of Mrs. Edward Jackson Holmes

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 34

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x dia of base): 14.3 x 13 cm (5 5/8 x 5 1/8 in.); Other (Dia of rim): 14.6 cm (5 3/4 in.); Weight: 26 oz., 17 1/2 dwt.

    Accession Number

    65.388

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Mint Condition

    1962
    Robert Irwin (American, born in 1928 American)

    Description

    Provenance

    The artist; to Mr. Henry Geldzahler, New York; to MFA, Boston, 1971

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mr. Henry Geldzahler

    Copyright

    © 2011 Robert Irwin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Details

    Dimensions

    182.9 x 182.9 cm (72 x 72 in.)

    Accession Number

    1971.738

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info
  • Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene and Her Maid

    about 1631–6
    Bernardo Strozzi (Italian (Genoese, active in Genoa and Venice), 1581–1644)

    Description

    According to legend, Saint Sebastian was condemned to be executed by archers because he refused to renounce his Christian faith. Saint Irene and her maid discovered him pierced by arrows, but still alive, and nursed him back to health. In later centuries Sebastian was often invoked for protection against plague, particularly in Venice, where Strozzi painted this work. Just as Sebastian absorbed the arrows without perishing, the faithful believed the saint would protect them from the wounds of disease.

    Provenance

    About 1631-1636, the composition was created as a single canvas; probably by the end of the 17th century, it had been separated into two sections, MFA object nos. 1972.83 (lower section) and 2003.72 (upper section) [see note 1]. 1971, anonymous collection, Scotland; June 30, 1971, sale of anonymous collector, Sotheby's, London, lot 71, to S. Pollak for Hallsborough Gallery, London [see note 2]; 1972, sold by Hallsborough Gallery to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 8, 1972) NOTES: [1] The original composition was probably divided by the mid-17th century, and almost certainly by 1693. This is suggested by the existence of two paintings attributed to Strozzi's assistant, Ermanno Stroiffi (b. 1613 - d. 1693), which replicate the fragments now at the MFA. It has been determined that these two canvases (church of San Martino, Nespoledo, near Udine, 161 x 130 cm. and Museo Civico, Padua, 74 x 114 cm.) were never part of a single composition (Lucio Zambon, Conservator, oral communication, October 1, 2004), but were created separately, probably after the original by Strozzi had been divided. Strozzi's canvas, therefore, was most likely divided before Stroiffi's death in 1693, either by Strozzi himself or by an early owner of his work. A technical examination of the stretchers confirms that the canvas had been cut by the late 18th to mid-19th century. [2] F. Schrecker, director of the Hallsborough Gallery, contacted Sotheby's about the provenance of the picture at the time it was acquired. In a letter to Perry T. Rathbone of the MFA (October 11, 1971; in MFA curatorial file), Schrecker wrote that Sotheby's "assured us that it came directly from a private collection in Scotland. Unfortunately, however, this previous owner, for personal reasons, is unwilling to disclose his name." Ellis Waterhouse wrote to Perry T. Rathbone (March 14, 1972), "I rather think, but cannot check this, that I saw it in Edinburgh about twenty years ago, rather fleetingly, and was told it belonged to some Roman Catholic establishment." Attempts to verify this have not yet been successful.

    Credit Line

    Charles Potter Kling Fund and Francis Welch Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    166.7 x 118.7 cm (65 5/8 x 46 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1972.83

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    William I. Koch Gallery (Gallery 250)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info
  • Two Nudes (Lovers)

    1913
    Oskar Kokoschka (Austrian, 1886–1980)

    Description

    Painted in Vienna in the years just prior to World War I, Two Nudes is a self-portrait of Kokoschka with Alma Mahler, a symbolic testimonial to the artist’s tumultuous affair with the widow of the great composer Gustav Mahler. Kokoschka’s haunted expression and the ambiguous poses of the two lovers—who seem both to embrace and to move past each other—reflect a complex and tormented relationship. Kokoschka’s bold brushwork and Expressionist style were influenced not only by van Gogh but by the sixteenth-century Spanish painter El Greco, whose work Kokoschka greatly admired.

    Inscription

    Lower center: OK

    Provenance

    About 1914/1915, sold by the artist to Oskar Reichel (b. 1869 - d. 1943), Vienna [see note 1]; February, 1939, transferred by Reichel to Otto Kallir (b. 1894 - d. 1978), Galerie St. Etienne, Paris and New York [see note 2]; 1945, sold by Galerie St. Etienne, New York, to the Nierendorf Gallery, New York; 1945, sold by Nierendorf to Silberman Galleries, New York; 1947/1948, probably sold by Silberman to Sarah Reed (Mrs. John) Blodgett, later Sarah Reed Platt (d. by 1972), Grand Rapids, Portland, Oregon and Santa Barbara; 1973, bequest of Sarah Reed Platt to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 11, 1973) NOTES: [1] Dr. Oskar Reichel, an admirer and collector of Kokoschka's work, also knew him personally and almost certainly acquired this painting directly from him. Tobias G. Natter, Die Welt von Klimt, Schiele und Kokoschka: Sammler und Mäzene (Cologne, 2003), 254, suggests it was acquired around 1914/1915. The painting was first published as being in Dr. Reichel's collection by Paul Westheim in Das Kunstblatt 1 (1917), p. 319. [2] On February 1, 1939, Reichel transferred the painting--along with four other Kokoschka paintings--to the dealer Otto Kallir, who at that time ran the Galerie St. Etienne in Paris. Kallir exhibited it in Paris that spring and brought it to the United States later that year. After his arrival in the United States, he paid Reichel's two sons, who had already immigrated to North and South America, for the paintings. Kallir opened a branch of his Galerie St. Etienne in New York and exhibited this work often between 1940 and 1945. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, please see http://www.mfa.org/collections/provenance

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Sarah Reed Platt

    Copyright

    © 2015 Fondation Oskar Kokoschka / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ProLitteris, Zürich

    Details

    Dimensions

    163.2 x 97.5 cm (64 1/4 x 38 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1973.196

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery (Gallery 155)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info
  • Fish effigy pectoral bead

    Olmec
    Middle Formative period
    900–550 B.C.

    Object Place, Mexico

    Description

    Large greenstone body adornment in the form of a fish. It was recarved from another object, vestiges of its original form remaining on the fish’s tail, fins and mouth area. A large hole drilled horizontally through the fish allows for suspension on a cord. Its eye is represented by a circular drill hole that does not completely pierce the jade. The mouth is indicated by a raised portion with a groove running from the upper lip to a drill hole in the lower lip.

    Provenance

    Miguel Covarrubias Collection, Mexico City, before 1973; with Veracruzana, Inc., New York, by 1973; to Landon T. Clay, Boston, Massachusetts, in May 1973; to MFA, December 1978, gift of Landon T. Clay.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Landon T. Clay

    Details

    Dimensions

    12.06 x 7.62 x 2.54 cm (4 3/4 x 3 x 1 in.)

    Accession Number

    1978.487

    Medium or Technique

    Jadeite: traces of red pigment

    On View

    Ancient Central America Gallery (Gallery LG32)

    Collections

    Americas, Jewelry

    Classifications

    Jewelry / Adornment, Beads

    More Info
  • Cylinder vase

    Maya
    Late Classic Period
    A.D. 725–760

    Place of Manufacture, El Petén, Motul de San José area, Guatemala

    Description

    Yajaw Te’ K’inich, a rotund ruler of the ancient Maya Ik’ polity (present day Motul de San José, Guatemala), dances with his jaguar throne and wears a full face mask. He is accompanied by two masked dancing figures, a masked attendant holding a panache of feathers, and a kneeling figure holding a small dish containing blood sacrifice implements. The body of a heart-sacrificed infant is superimposed on the chest of one of the dancing figures. The hieroglyphic text painted around the vase’s rim records the date and nature of the dance event and the name of its main participant Yajaw Te’ K’inich. The names and titles of other participants are found in short hieroglyphic phrases painted within the scene.

    Inscription

    The rim text describes the pictorial scene and includes the event's Calendar Round date, records this as a dance event, and names the principle actor K'inich Ajaw of the Ik' polity. Short texts within the scene name the participants.

    Provenance

    Collected between 1974 and 1981 by John Fulling, Art Collectors of November, Inc., Florida (and known as the "November Collection"); to Landon T. Clay, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1987; to MFA, December 1988, gift of Landon T. Clay.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Landon T. Clay

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    MS1121; Kerr 1439

    Dimensions

    23.5 x 12.4 cm (9 1/4 x 4 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1988.1177

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware: orange, red, dark pink, and black on cream slip paint

    On View

    Ancient Central America Gallery (Gallery LG32)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Ceramics, Pottery, Earthenware

    More Info
  • Figure

    African, Dogon peoples, Mali
    Late 19th to early 20th century
    Artist Unidentified

    Description

    According to Dogon cosmology the creator god Amma and the female earth joined to create the Dogon primordial ancestors, known as nommo. Wooden sculptures said to represent these nommo spirits or their worshippers were carved by blacksmiths and placed on family altars. This figure illustrates the typically Dogon elongation of torso and neck, and the contrasting interplay of curving and angular, vertical and horizontal, elements. The combining of both male and female characteristic is also common.

    Provenance

    1960s, sold by J. J. Klejman (dealer), New York, to Samuel Wagstaff (b. 1921 – d. 1987), Hartford, CT; sold by Wagstaff to William Rubin (b. 1926 – d. 2006), New York. September, 1984, sold by Michael Oliver, Inc., New York, to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1991, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: January 22, 1992 and February 26, 2014)

    Credit Line

    Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel

    Details

    Dimensions

    height: 50.8 cm (20 in.)

    Accession Number

    1991.1068

    Medium or Technique

    Wood

    On View

    Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)

    Collections

    Africa and Oceania

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • The Deluge

    1969
    Philip Guston (American, 1913–1980 American)

    Description

    In the 1950s Guston achieved international acclaim with his lushly painted pure abstractions, so the introduction of caricature-like figural imagery in the late 1960s was startling and highly controversial. The Deluge belongs to this period of transition. Although abstract, the title forces the viewer to read the composition as the aftermath of this cataclysmic event.

    But Guston saw his artistic change as essential. He recalled years later that: “When the 1960s came along I was feeling split, schizophrenic. The war, what was happening in America, the brutality of the world. What kind of man am I, sitting at home, reading magazines, going into a frustrated fury about everything-and then going into my studio to adjust a red to a blue. I thought there must be some way I could do something about it. I knew ahead of me a road was laying. A very crude, inchoate road …” The Deluge is not simply political commentary. Its ominous perspective on survival embodied Guston’s internal artistic conflict as well. Guston abhorred “political art” and his dissatisfaction lay not only with the state of the world but his increasing disenchantment with what he had come to see as the hollowness of abstraction.

    Provenance

    The artist; with Musa Guston Estate, New York; 1992, bequest of Musa Guston Estate to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 28, 1992.)

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Musa Guston

    Details

    Dimensions

    195.6 x 325.1 cm (77 x 128 in.)

    Accession Number

    1992.509

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art, Prints and Drawings

    Classifications

    Pastels

    More Info
  • Carved stone (atal or akwanshi)

    African, Cross River region, Nigeria
    18th–19th century
    Artist Unidentified

    Object Place, Cross River area, Nigeria

    Description

    Sculpture in hard stone is somewhat rare in sub-Saharan Africa, yet some three hundred have been documented in the forested region of the middle Cross River. About forty groupings, often set up in the center of a village, are known to the present inhabitants. The Ejagham (or Ekoi) call them akwanshi (dead person in the ground); Bakon-speakers call the monoliths atal (the stone). The ovoid forms were carved out of volcanic boulders by grinding or pecking with stone tools to leave raised features of a human face and simplified body. A long, raised nose divides this symmetrical face. Beneath the brow, the circular eyes are emphasized by hatched borders, from which tearlike bands or keliods extend down the cheeks toward the open mouth. A V-shaped jaw or beard line points down toward the prominent ringed navel.

    Provenance

    Early 20th century, said to have come from the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Farnham, England. December 3, 1991, anonymous sale, Christie's, London, lot 86, to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1994, gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 25, 1995)

    Credit Line

    Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel

    Details

    Dimensions

    73.66 cm (29 in.)

    Accession Number

    1994.419

    Medium or Technique

    Basalt

    On View

    Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)

    Collections

    Africa and Oceania

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Treasure box (waka huia)

    Maori peoples, New Zealand
    19th century

    Object Place, Maori people, New Zealand

    Description

    Chiefs used containers such as this to store personal property and valuable family heirlooms, among them nephrite pendants, ear ornaments, and bone combs. Often referred to as feather boxes, the receptacles also held the black-and-white tail feathers of the huia bird (Heteralocha acutirostris), which served as hair decoration emblematic of high rank. Since the boxes hung from the rafters in chiefs’ houses, their undersides were visible and were usually as elaborate as the lids. An owner could pass the box down as a family heirloom or give it as an honored gift to someone special. The object sometimes also received its own name. As personal possessions of chiefs, the container and its contents became imbued with tapu. Three types of treasure boxes have been distinguished; this example is a wakahuia, more frequent in central and eastern North Island. All surfaces of the oblong container and its detachable lid are embellished with raised reliefs of double spirals and intertwined pattern called unaunahi. Projecting from each end is a carved figure with a schematic body, aggressive features, and shell eyes. This box was collected about 1864-66 at a time when Maori relief carving became increasingly elaborate.

    Provenance

    Between 1864 and 1866, collected in New Zealand by Major General Horatio Gordon Robley (b. 1840 – d. 1930); 1902, sold by Robley to the Königlich Zoologisches, Anthropologisch-Ethnographisches Museum, later the Museum für Völkerkunde, Dresden (inventory no. 13813) [see note]; 1987, exchanged by the Museum für Völkerkunde with Everett Rassiga (dealer; b. 1922 - d. 2003), Bern. Morris Pinto (b. 1925 – d. 2009), Geneva and New York. May 26, 1992, sold by Tambaran Gallery, New York, to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1994, year-end gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 25, 1995) NOTE: Purchased in 1902 with the financial support of Arthur Baessler (b. 1857 – d. 1907), Eberswalde, Germany.

    Credit Line

    Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel

    Details

    Dimensions

    58.42 cm (23 in.)

    Accession Number

    1994.422a-b

    Medium or Technique

    Wood, pigment, haliotis shell

    On View

    Arts of Asia, Oceania, and Africa Gallery (Gallery 177)

    Collections

    Africa and Oceania

    Classifications

    Boxes

    More Info
  • Statue of Osiris (feet and base)

    Egyptian
    Late Period, Dynasty 26
    664–525 B.C.

    Findspot: Egypt, Giza

    Description

    Osiris, god of the dead, stands mummiform, arms folded right over left, with wedge-formed feet. Head and hands emerge from a shroud so smoothly contoured to the shape of the body that details such as arms, elbows, and kneecaps emerge from the plain undifferentiated surface as islands of relief, while the crook and flail appear less as accessories than as organic outgrowths of the underlying form. The base and back pillar are inscribed with mortuary texts on behalf of the “king’s acquaintance” Ptahirdis, whose father’s name was Wepwawetem-
    saf and whose mother’s name was Merptahites.

    The statue has the oldest modern history in the Egyptian collection. The upper part (from the knees up) was excavated in 1928 by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition in the shaft of Giza tomb 7792, east of the Great Pyramid. The lower part (base and ankles) was discovered 130 years earlier. It was brought to France by General Jean Lannes (later marshal of France and duke of Montebello), one of Napoleon’s most valiant officers, who participated in the short-lived but epoch-making Egyptian Campaign of 1798–1801, the beginning of the modern science of Egyptology.

    General Lannes by all reports was no antiquarian. The feet of Osiris passed down in his family for six generations until 1999, when Egyptologist Olivier Perdu, visiting French country house collections of antiquities, recognized it as belonging to the MFA fragment. Although it does not directly join (approximately 8 centimeters [3 inches] in the middle are restored), its size, shape, material, and above all the identical names and titles of the personages mentioned in the inscriptions leave no doubt that it belongs. Through the generosity of a friend the lower part was purchased by the Museum, and the two fragments, sundered in antiquity, are now one. The result is both a masterpiece of Late Period sculpture and a historical link with the founding moment of modern Egyptology.

    Provenance

    From Giza. 1798: found at Giza during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign by General Jean Lannes, Duc de Montebello; taken to Paris following the French capitulation to the English; passed down in the owner’s family until 2000; 2000: purchased by the MFA from owner. (Accession date: October 25, 2000.)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by Stanford Calderwood in honor of Norma Jean Calderwood, a member of the Visiting Committee of Art of the Ancient World

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height x width x depth: 20 x 15.5 x 29 cm (7 7/8 x 6 1/8 x 11 7/16 in.) - Lower Part Height: .55cm (21 5/8 in) - upper part Weight: 33.6 KG ( 74 LBS )

    Accession Number

    2000.973

    Medium or Technique

    Greywacke

    Out on Loan

    On display at Basilica Palladiana, Vicenza, December 24, 2014 – June 2, 2015

    Collections

    The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Fountain basin with a reclining river god

    Roman
    Imperial Period
    A.D. 98–138

    Place of Manufacture, Italy

    Description

    Lustral double basin with a bearded river god (the Nile) with wreathed hair swept back in a bun, nude apart from a cloak draped over his legs, holding a cornucopia in his left hand, a scroll (?) in his right. The god’s left elbow reclines against a female sphinx (head missing), and his right foot rests against a rock; he is flanked on either side by a small shrine recessed for a statue (now missing), with pedimented tiled roof, decorated with an inverted double bound lotus flower in relief within each pediment, and a tall date palm carved in relief on either side. The deep slanting inner basin, into which water entered from a slit below the reclining deity, fits into a square basin with plughole; the front panels are recessed and decorated with two relief rings at each end. The back of the fountain has three holes for the introduction of water into each of the arched shrines.

    Scientific Analysis:

    University of South Florida Lab No. 8450: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.2 / delta18O -2.1,

    Attribution - Carrara. Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain, white with flecks of gray.

    University of South Florida Lab No. 8451: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.4 / delta18O -2.0,

    University of South Florida Lab No. 8452: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.3 / delta18O -2.0,

    University of South Florida Lab No. 8453: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.3 / delta18O -2.0,

    University of South Florida Lab No. 8454: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.3 / delta18O -2.0,

    University of South Florida Lab No. 8455: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.3 / delta18O -2.0,

    Attribution - in all five cases, Carrara. Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain, white with flecks of gray.

    Provenance

    Known since the late 17th century and published in 1724 with a drawing by M. Fritsch in B. De Montfaucon, L'antiquité expliquée et illustrée en figures, Vol. Suppl. III, pl. 63; by about 1802: Collection of 4th Earl of Darnley, Cobham Hall, Kent, England (probably brought from Italy); photographed at Cobham Hall by Cornelius Vermeule in 1954; by late 1950s or 1960s: with Spink & Son, 5, 6 & 7 King Street, St. James's, London; by date unknown: possibly in the Binney Collection, Kent?, England; by date unknown: private collection, Richmond, Surrey, England; by November 2001: with Christie's South Kensington, 85 Old Brompton Road, London, SW7 3LD, England; November 7, 2001: purchased by MFA at Christie's auction 9244 (Nov. 7, 2001, lot 332); accessioned: February 27, 2002

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds by exchange from a Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry P. Kidder, a Gift of Thomas Gold Appleton, a Gift of Edward Jackson Holmes, a Gift of Mrs. Francis C. Lowell, Otis Norcross Fund, and a Gift of Edward Perry Warren

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 136.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 66 x 88 x 74 cm, 408.2 kg (26 x 34 5/8 x 29 1/8 in., 900 lb.) Framed (Steel tube palette /four gusset angles for lifting): 7.8 x 90.5 x 74.3 cm (3 1/16 x 35 5/8 x 29 1/4 in.) Block (Rolling wooden pedestal includes steel palette): 91.4 x 102.2 x 142.2 cm (36 x 40 1/4 x 56 in.)

    Accession Number

    2002.21

    Medium or Technique

    Marble from Carrara, Italy

    On View

    Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)

    Collections

    The Ancient World

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Three Angels

    Upper Section of Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene and Her Maid

    about 1631–36
    Bernardo Strozzi (Italian (Genoese, active in Genoa and Venice), 1581–1644)

    Object Place, Italy

    Description

    Fragment of MFA’s Strozzi, Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene and her Maid (1972.83)

    Provenance

    About 1631-1636, the composition was created as a single canvas; probably by the end of the 17th century, it had been separated into two sections, MFA object nos. 1972.83 (lower section) and 2003.72 (upper section) [see note 1]. Private collection, Genoa [see note 2]. Until 2002, Bader collection, Augsburg, Germany [see note 3]; June 14-15, 2002, anonymous (Bader) sale, Auktionshaus Georg Rehm, Augsburg, lot 8067 [see note 4], to an anonymous dealer, Germany; 2003, sold by this anonymous dealer to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 26, 2003) NOTES: [1] The original composition was probably divided by the mid-17th century, and almost certainly by 1693. This is suggested by the existence of two paintings attributed to Strozzi's assistant, Ermanno Stroiffi (b. 1613 - d. 1693), which replicate the fragments now at the MFA. It has been determined that these two canvases (church of San Martino, Nespoledo, near Udine, 161 x 130 cm. and Museo Civico, Padua, 74 x 114 cm.) were never part of a single composition (Lucio Zambon, Conservator, oral communication, October 1, 2004), but were created separately, probably after the original by Strozzi had been divided. Strozzi's canvas, therefore, was most likely divided before Stroiffi's death in 1693, either by Strozzi himself or by an early owner of his work. A technical examination of the stretchers confirms that the canvas had been cut by the late 18th to mid-19th century. [2] The upper fragment was reproduced, without indication of its location, by Orlando Grosso, "Note ed appunti su Bernardo Strozzi," Rassegna d'Arte 9 (1922): p. 158. Luisa Mortari, "Bernardo Strozzi" (Rome, 1966), p. 132, fig. 126, also reproduced it and gave its location as a private collection, Genoa. The dates that it was in this collection, however, are not known. The link between the painting reproduced by Grosso and Mortari and the MFA's painting of St. Sebastian (1972.83) was first proposed by Barry Hannegan, "Strozzi's Saint Sebastian," MFA Bulletin 71, no. 364 (1973), p. 66. [3] This information was supplied by Georg Rehm. How and when the Bader family came into possession of the painting is not known. It may have been purchased from Kurt Bösch (b. 1907 - d. 2000) of Augsburg, from whom the Baders acquired other works of art, though this is not certain. [4] Attributed in the catalogue to an Italian artist, about 1800.

    Credit Line

    Henry H. and Zoe Oliver Sherman Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 85 x 121.5 cm (33 7/16 x 47 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2003.72

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    William I. Koch Gallery (Gallery 250)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

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