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Art with a Past

  • Art with a Past - Slide

  • A Pavane

    1897

    Edwin Austin Abbey, American, 1852–1911 American

    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

    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.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    2004.238

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Fractal Mountain

    1988

    Richard Rosenblum, American, 1940–2000 American

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Bronze

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    2003.281

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

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  • Metamorphosis

    1985

    Richard Rosenblum, American, 1940–2000 American

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Epoxy

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    2003.282

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

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  • Rootrider

    1988

    Richard Rosenblum, American, 1940–2000 American

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Bronze

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    2003.283

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

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  • Tripod plate

    A.D. 672–830

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Earthenware: red, orange, and black on cream slip

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Earthenware

    Accession Number

    2006.844

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Diana and Stag Automaton

    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.

    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.)

    Medium

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

    Classification

    Silver-gilt

    Accession Number

    2004.568

    Collections

    Europe

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  • 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).

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    70.1

    Collections

    Americas

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  • 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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    71.2

    Collections

    Europe

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  • 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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    71.3

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Architrave relief from the Temple of Athena at Assos with a scene...

    about 540–525 B.C.

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Trachyte

    Classification

    Architectural elements

    Accession Number

    84.67

    Collections

    The Ancient World

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  • Architrave block from the Temple of Athena at Assos with facing...

    about 540–525 B.C.

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Trachyte

    Classification

    Architectural elements

    Accession Number

    84.68

    Collections

    The Ancient World

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  • 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."

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    90.152

    Collections

    Europe

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

    about 490–480 B.C.

    the Tyszkiewicz Painter

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Ceramic, Red Figure

    Classification

    Vessels

    Accession Number

    97.368

    Collections

    The Ancient World

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  • Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying,...

    1840

    Joseph Mallord William Turner, English, 1775–1851

    Description

    When Turner exhibited this picture at the Royal Academy in 1840 he paired it with the following extract from his unfinished and unpublished poem "Fallacies of Hope" (1812):

    "Aloft all hands, strike the top-masts and belay;
    Yon angry setting sun and fierce-edged clouds
    Declare the Typhon's coming.
    Before it sweeps your decks, throw overboard
    The dead and dying - ne'er heed their chains
    Hope, Hope, fallacious Hope!
    Where is thy market now?"

    For the full text of Turner's verse see A. J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., 2nd ed., 1961, p. 474

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    99.22

    Collections

    Europe

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

    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."

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Onyx

    Classification

    Jewelry / Adornment , Cameos

    Accession Number

    99.101

    Collections

    Jewelry , The Ancient World

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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).

    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.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    03.1033

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Head of a priest (The Boston Green Head)

    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.

    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.)

    Medium

    Greywacke

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    04.1749

    Collections

    The Ancient World

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  • Shô Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion

    dated 1269

    Saichi, Japanese, dates unknown Japanese

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Gilt bronze; cast from piece molds

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    11.11447

    Collections

    Asia

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  • Seated bodhisattva

    about A.D. 530

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Carved limestone

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    13.2804

    Collections

    Asia

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  • Statue of Lady Sennuwy

    1971–1926 B.C.

    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.

    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.)

    Medium

    Granodiorite

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    14.720

    Collections

    The Ancient World

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  • The Sower

    1850

    Jean-François Millet, French, 1814–1875 French

    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."

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    17.1485

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Harp (cláirseach)

    1734

    John Kelly, Irish, active 1726–1734 Irish

    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).

    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.)

    Medium

    Willow, brass

    Classification

    Musical instruments , Chordophones

    Accession Number

    17.1787

    Collections

    Europe , Musical Instruments

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  • Clavichord

    end of the 16th or early 17th century

    Description
    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.)

    Medium

    Fir

    Classification

    Musical instruments , Chordophones

    Accession Number

    17.1796

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

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  • Miroku, the Bodhisattva of the Future

    1189

    Artist Kaikei, Japanese, active 1189–1223 Japanese

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

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

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    20.723a

    Collections

    Asia

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  • Altarpiece with Amitabha and Attendants

    dated A.D. 593

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Cast bronze

    Classification

    Metalwork

    Accession Number

    22.407

    Collections

    Asia

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  • Torso of King Achoris

    393–381 B.C.

    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.

    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.)

    Medium

    Granodiorite

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    29.732

    Collections

    The Ancient World

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

    25 B.C.–A.D. 25

    Description
    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.)

    Medium

    Sandstone

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    29.999

    Collections

    Asia

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  • Statue of Osiris (upper part)

    664–525 B.C.

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Greywacke

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    29.1131

    Collections

    The Ancient World

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  • Figural lamp stand

    4th–3rd century B.C.

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Height 30cm (11 13/16in.)

    Medium

    Bronze and jade

    Classification

    Metalwork

    Accession Number

    31.976

    Collections

    Asia

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  • Press cupboard

    1650–1700

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

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

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    32.258

    Collections

    Americas

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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).

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    34.131

    Collections

    Americas

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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.

    Details

    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.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    36.270

    Collections

    Europe

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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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    41.40

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Chest-on-chest

    1806–09

    Design and carving attributed to Samuel McIntire, American,...

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Mahogany, mahogany veneer, ebony and satinwood inlay, pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    41.580

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Portrait of a Man and Woman in an Interior

    1665–1667

    Eglon van der Neer, Dutch, 1634–1703 Dutch

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    41.935

    Collections

    Europe

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  • The Tea

    about 1880

    Mary Stevenson Cassatt, American, 1844–1926

    Description

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Erica E. Hirshler

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    42.178

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Nocturne in Blue and Silver: The Lagoon, Venice

    1879–80

    James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American (active in England),...

    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).

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    42.302

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Altarpiece - Guardian Lion (right)

    dated A.D. 593

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Lost-wax cast bronze with inscription

    Classification

    Metalwork

    Accession Number

    47.1407

    Collections

    Asia

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  • Sons of Liberty Bowl

    1768

    Paul Revere, Jr., American, 1734–1818

    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."

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    49.45

    Collections

    Americas

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  • The Procuress

    1622

    Dirck van Baburen, Dutch, 1590 to 1595–1624 Dutch

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    50.2721

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Still Life in an Architectural Setting

    about 1645

    Jan Fyt, Flemish, 1611–1661

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    50.2728

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Court cupboard

    1685–90

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oak, maple, white pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    51.53

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Virgin and Child

    1210–25

    Unidentified artist, French, 17th century

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Wood with polychromy and gilding

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    59.701

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Self-Portrait as a Warrior

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Unfired clay painted with tempera

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    60.958

    Collections

    Europe

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  • 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.

    Details

    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.

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    65.388

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Mint Condition

    1962

    Robert Irwin, American, born in 1928 American

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    182.9 x 182.9 cm (72 x 72 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1971.738

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

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  • Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene and Her Maid

    about 1631–6

    Bernardo Strozzi, Italian (Genoese, active in Genoa and Venice),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1972.83

    Collections

    Europe

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  • 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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1973.196

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Fish effigy pectoral bead

    900–550 B.C.

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Jadeite: traces of red pigment

    Classification

    Jewelry / Adornment , Beads

    Accession Number

    1978.487

    Collections

    Americas , Jewelry

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  • Cylinder vase

    A.D. 725–760

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

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

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Earthenware

    Accession Number

    1988.1177

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Figure

    Late 19th to early 20th century

    Artist Unidentified, African

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

    height: 50.8 cm (20 in.)

    Medium

    Wood

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    1991.1068

    Collections

    Africa and Oceania

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  • 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.

    Details

    Dimensions

    195.6 x 325.1 cm (77 x 128 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Pastels

    Accession Number

    1992.509

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art , Prints and Drawings

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  • Carved stone (atal or akwanshi)

    18th–19th century

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

    73.66 cm (29 in.)

    Medium

    Basalt

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    1994.419

    Collections

    Africa and Oceania

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  • Treasure box (waka huia)

    19th century

    Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander

    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.

    Details

    Dimensions

    58.42 cm (23 in.)

    Medium

    Wood, pigment, haliotis shell

    Classification

    Boxes

    Accession Number

    1994.422a-b

    Collections

    Africa and Oceania

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  • Statue of Osiris (feet and base)

    664–525 B.C.

    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.

    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

    Medium

    Greywacke

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    2000.973

    Collections

    The Ancient World

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  • Fountain basin with a reclining river god

    A.D. 98–138

    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.

    Details

    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.)

    Medium

    Marble from Carrara, Italy

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    2002.21

    Collections

    The Ancient World

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  • Three Angels

    about 1631–36

    Bernardo Strozzi, Italian (Genoese, active in Genoa and Venice),...

    Description

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

    Details

    Dimensions

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

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    2003.72

    Collections

    Europe

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