Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Good Day Sampling Three Centuries

As the Green Line conductor helped us off the trolley at the Museum of Fine Arts  stop yesterday morning, he said, "Have a good day!" I wanted to reply cheerfully, "Of course I'll have a good day...I'm going to the Museum!" As I see it, a day of enjoying beautiful art can't avoid being wonderful.

Once in the Museum, we noticed that a  free guided tour of the Art Of The Americas wing would start shortly. My long-time readers know, at this point, how much I love guided tours, and you also know that my husband spoils me rotten when it  comes to to things of this nature. Since we have declared September as our vacation month, I particularly felt that we should do something a little differently, so taking a tour offered a  perfect plan!
Our docent

Although John took several photographs during the tour (as well as taking excellent notes), I've decided against commenting on every piece the docent showed us. (After all, being on vacation extends to my blogging activities.) I will, therefore, discuss three pieces that I liked. Happily, I liked one from the 18th Century, one from the 19th and one from the 20th, so I can give a good representation of the tour without wading through too many details.

The Puritans of the 18th Century, while they didn't frown on painting entirely, tended to channel their artistic energies toward carpentry so that they created beautiful furniture. This stunning bookcase and desk demonstrates the Rhode Island love of the sea through its shell design:
Look closer, and you'll see a concave/convex pattern in the panels and drawers. I can't resist speculating that the pattern intentionally mimics the undulation of ocean waves, although our docent never said as much. Examine this detail (blurry only because the Museum can't permit flash photography) and see what you think of my theory.
Moving to the mid-19th Century, our docent introduced us to Fitz Henry Lane's painting, entitled Boston Harbor. Painted between 1850 and 1855, this portrayal of Boston Harbor at sunset gives the viewer a feeling of tranquility.
But Lane's sunset serves as a metaphor of the end of the clipper ship era. In the lower right corner of the painting, barely visible unless you look for  it, a small steamboat encroaches on the harbor to signal the coming of the Industrial Revolution. I've made a detail of the painting's corner, circling the steamboat with red.
If you still can't see it, click this link from the Museum of Fine Arts page on Lane.

The tour concluded with one of my favorite 20th Century paintings, Georgia O'Keefe's 1927 White Rose With  Larkspur  No. 2. I love the piece even more knowing that it hung over her bed until she gave it to the Museum in the 1950s.
The Green Line conductor quite probably tells most of his passengers to have a good day, meaning it sincerely each time. He has no idea,  however, what a fantastically good day I really had. Then again, I always have a wonderful day exploring the Museum of Fine Arts.


  1. I can see the waves & I bet if you could run your hand across it, you could feel them. But that's just me wanting to touch everything! Love those 2 paintings.

  2. I grew up in RI and went to the Wilbur Theater, and also the Museums. How fortunate I was!

    I have seen the Lane painting of the Harbor many times, but I'm so glad you shared the detail about the steamboat, I'd never seen that before! How wonderful to learn this new fact about a well-loved piece of art.

    I am truly thrilled you and your husband had a good day. Happy vacationing!!


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