Sunday, July 6, 2014 A
"A Wealth of Ideas"

Such wealth! Where do I begin? How about the beginning of the day?

Breakfast of 'hospitality' oatmeal with raisins and walnuts brought another greeting of our friend Charles.

Then onto MFA, we made a bee-line for the Impressionists, whose gallery they had only finished renovating a month before our arrival. Photos of the artists accompanied their paintings. Both Degas and Monet appeared dark haired and thin, if memory serves me right.

Degas had done a portrait of a man and a woman, the woman with a severe expression:

Duchessa di Montejasi with Her Daughters, Elena and Camilla
Edgar Degas, French, 18341917
Oil on canvas, about 1876
MFA #2003.250
"The portrayal of the artist's Aunt Fanny is without flattery, delicately balanced between austerity and empathy. " (From Museum website)
My camera gave out early in the Impressionist galleries, informing me "memory card full". But I did manage to capture a few lovelies:

Ballet Dancer with Arms Crossed
Edgar Degas, French, 18341917
Oil on canvas, about 1872
Bequest of John T. Spaulding 1948, MFA #48.534

"This somewhat introverted portrayal of a dancer was left unfinsihed in Dega's studio at the time of his death. The bare preparation layer of her skirt and roughly sketched contours of her arms expose the artist's process - laying in outlines first and then, working in sections, building half tones to model three-dimensional form. The resulting image is both strikingly modern and quite literally reserved: a work in progress." (From info card)

Rue de la Bavole, Honfleur
Claude Monet, French, 18401926
Oil on canvas, about 1864
Bequest of John T. Spaulding 1948, MFA #48.580
"Dating from the beginning of Monet's career, this view of a street in the old port of Honfleur is a relatively traditional subject painted with great simplicity and directness. Monet's palette here still retains the color black, used to render half tones and shadows. His later Impressionist paintings would do away with black in favor of blue, green, and purple." (From info card)

Manet did a painting of the "nekkid" lady in his lunch scene, the same model is wearing a black ribbon around her neck, as she did in Manet's Olympia:

Victorine Meurent
Edouard Manet, French, 18321883
Oil on canvas, about 1862
Gift of Richard C. Paine in memory of his father, Robert Treat Paine 2nd 1946, MFA #46.846
"Victorine Meurent was Manet's great model and muse in the 1860s. Her oval face, russet hair, and gray eyes appear in many of the artist's most ambitious paintings of the period, including the Street Singer, also in the MFA's collection. This smaller portrait was probably his first painting of Meurent, made when she was still a teenager. It conveys a sense of wary intimacy far removed from his subsequent large-scale works." (From info card)

Mixed Flowers in an Earthenware Pot
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French, 18411919
Oil on paperboard mounted on canvas, about 1869
Bequest of John T. Spaulding 1948, MFA #48.592
"In this rustic arrangement of dahlias, asters, and sunflowers, Renoir applied paint in two different ways, conveying the delicacy of petals with short, wet strokes and the solidity of the earthware pot and burnished pears with broader, smoother brushwork. The picture marks Renoir's closest collaboration with Monet; the young artists painted the same still life, sitting side by side before the arrangement. Monet's version of the composition is now in the J. Paul Getty Museum." (From info card)

The very last photo I got was showing Renoir's graceful sculpture against the background of a painting by Van Gogh and another painting by Renoir:

Small Victorious Venus
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French, 18411919
Bronze, about 1869
Size: 85.1 x 22.9 x 22.9 cm, 29.2 kg (33 1/2 x 9 x 9 in., 64.4 lb.)
William Francis Warden Fund, MFA #56.259

After that photo, the camera was tucked back into its case. If I were an obsessed sort of person, we might have left to purchase another memory card and then returned. But I am not that obsessed. I decided the best thing to do was spend as much time before each piece as I could, and just 'drink' it into my soul. (Feed the Ka! :D )

And I did! After the Impressionists, we went back in time. A scene by Turner of the unfortunate slaves on the Zong slave ship, whose starved bodies were dumped into the ocean stays with me, red luminous angry sky, choppy devouring ocean. We'd learned about this incident in the movie Belle. It was a turning point leading to gradually ending slavery in Britain.

What next stays with me is Rembrandt's luminous portrayal of Minerva. I'd seen this one prior in web-photos, but nothing can substitut for direct experience. Fortunately, there's a padded bench nearby where Julia and I sat a long time, appreciating this and other paintings by Rembrandt. A husband and wife, each in ruffs, each with their own painting, were to each side of Minerva. Rembrandt had some amazing tiny paintings, he and some other Dutch artist. An interior scene with a beloved pet dog, his fur so perfect, how did they manage such tiny perfection?

After the restoration of lunch (salmon with artichokes and leeks for both Julia and I, potato salad for me and chilled gazpacho soup for Julia), we headed for 'art of the Americas'.

I marveled at the intricate perfection of the arts and crafts movement.

Somehow the memory of a quatrefoil pitcher,(screen capture here if museum website is 'down'), first silver piece MFA ever acquired, is getting merged with the Art Nouveau perfection of Josef Hoffman, who was Austrian. A tiny blue and clear glass cup and saucer, created with the blue layer over the clear, and then the blue being carved away to reveal a 'plaid' design.

And the cabinetry! A cabinet that looked positively alive and undulating had vines travelling all around it.

I've gained new appreciation for Sargent. Amazing portraits of women, whose eternally youthful faces gaze out at the viewer in tranquil ease. And an artist I've never heard of, Tarbell! I remember a sunset scene of Boston Commons that enchanted me.

All the displays nicely combine paintings with furniture and vases, bowls, lamps of the era, to really give a sense of the aesthetics.

So much beauty!

Sometime after the American Impressionists but before the Copley and the 'painting Peales', we grew weary. There was maybe only a half an hour before the museum closed anyway. 'Home' to get another of the delicious damascus date shakes. and then to nap a bit.

After resting, we took advantage of a Mensan lecture, "Future Sex", by Dr. Helen Fisher. She has a new way of testing and catagorizing people:


"Explorers" tend to be attracted to other adventurous explorers. "Builders" tend to be attracted to other security-minded builders, while the "Directors" and "Negotiators" prefer their opposites.

I neatly figured out the mechanics of the attraction between Julia and I. Julia and I are both mentally adventurous Explorers. We take risks for mental adventure, do not spare cost for mental adventure. More books? Yes, if it will aid our research. Expensive trip to Boston? Yes, if we know we'll return with a wealth of mentally stimulating new ideas.

Physically, Julia and I are both Builders. We do not take risks physically. Paragliding, river rafting? No! But we cautiously choose the best nutrition we can. Kale? Yes! Now that I'm older, and know the importance of teeth and gum health to both heart and brain, yes to the every six month teeth cleaning.

Julia definitely comes up as the nurturing negotiator. She's frequently indecisive and looks to me for my decision. Fortunately, she's usually happy with what I select!.

We are both very happy with the experiences we've chosen this week!

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