One of the world’s most coveted commodities, sugar is an agent of both delight and oppression. Examine sugar within the wider historical context of trade, commerce, and slavery that organized the Atlantic world in the 17th and 18th centuries. Uncover the relationship between art, sugar, and slavery, and how sugar production and trade relates to the MFA’s Dutch and American still lifes, landscapes, and genre paintings and decorative arts.

Presentations include:

Domesticating Brazilian Sugar: Sweets and Comfits in Dutch and Flemish Paintings from the Van Otterloo and Weatherbie Collections
Antien Knaap, curatorial research fellow, Art of Europe, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Sugar War: Visualizing the Rise and Fall of Dutch Brazil, 1624-1654
Michiel van Groesen, professor of Maritime History, Leiden University

Sweetness and Silver: Boston Sugar Boxes and the Early Modern Atlantic World
Dennis Carr, Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Eating the Dead: Consumption and Regeneration in the History of Sugar
Vincent Brown, professor of History and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Performance by Jean Appolon Expressions

Organized with the MFA’s Center for Netherlandish Art.

Ticket Information

To order tickets by phone, call 1-800-440-6975 ($6 processing fee applies); to order in person, visit any MFA ticket desk.

Ticketing Policies


Groups of 10 or more are eligible for discounted pricing for lectures. For more information, please call 617-369-3310.

University Members can purchase $5 same-day tickets in person for regularly priced lectures and course sessions, pending availability. Valid student ID required, limit of one ticket per ID.


Supported by the Center for Netherlandish Art Founders Fund. The Founders of the Center for Netherlandish Art are Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie.