Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ancient Egypt and Toulouse-Latrec at the MFA, Boston

By looking out the window where I work, I can always see what the latest special exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art is here in Boston. There are these handy ads that hang from the streetlights that I can read from one of our dining rooms.  I've seen past exhibitions like the "Tintoretto, Titian, and Veronese," "El Greco to Velazquez," and "Madame X" and they have always been wonderful.   The announcement of "The Secrets of Tomb 10-A" has been taunting me for the past month or two, so I decided it was high time to get out of the house and see it on my day off.

With all of my trips to the MFA last year, I felt guilty about using my student ID to get in for free again.  They never question me and I love going, but my conscious was finally getting the better of me.  I have been out of school for about seven years, and as a "starving" artist myself, I decided it was time to give back to the community a little.  I bought a year membership that Dan and I can use for $100.  Not a bad deal considering you get unlimited admission, discounts at the bookstore, restaurants, concerts, and free admission to the special exhibits.  We can also bring a friend with us anytime we like if we aren't attending together.  What a deal!  Anyone who loves art would be crazy not to do the same.

I will be frank and say The Secrets of Tomb 10A was not what I expected.  Maybe I'm naive when it comes to Egyptian exhibitions, this being my first, but I guess I expected more glitz and glam.  Perhaps this is what the MFA is trying to get away from... the expected.  In any case, I did learn an awful lot about the excavation of this particular tomb, and about Egyptian culture.  I found the caskets really interesting and I was fascinated by all of the various spells for happiness in the afterlife that were inscribed inside and outside of them. There were a lot of points made about the social strata in the "Middle Kingdom" and a woman's place in their society so from an social standpoint, it was extremely enlightening.  I found the art to be compelling, and although I was hoping for more bling, I was not disappointed by the overall experience.  It's definitely worth seeing if you're interested in antiquities and will be on display at the Gund Gallery through mid May.

If you're at the MFA, you may also want to check out the regular galleries that are open everyday.  They have a spectacular collection of European Art, Asian art, and classical antiquities.  I found the Talouse-Latrec exhibit this way and was glad I did.  It's a collection of poster art that was created for the Moulin Rouge with a few offering by other artists in the same genre.  I love the bold graphics and colors of these pieces and it was fun to see them in person as opposed to the reproductions you see on your friends' living room walls.  Since photography is allowed in the regular galleries at the MFA, I snapped a few picture that I'll share with you below.

I also visited the European wing for a bit to see some old favorites and was pleased to see that some of the paintings had also been rotated since I was last there.  There was a nice grouping of Italian paintings in the atrium above one of the staircase with some Renaissance work, and I also checked out the Flemish room to visit the Rembrandts.  I was quite taken with the picture below of the Woman Playing a Lute below by Crespi.  I'm not sure if it is newly on display or if perhaps I hadn't noticed it before.  I wanted to share this with you. I love the beautiful curve of the woman's neck against the long straight neck of the lute and the way that her hands are delicately plucking the strings.  You can almost hear the sound of the lute if you look at it long enough.

Now that I am a member, I'm even more proud of the MFA.  I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful collection available here in Boston, and now I can sachet in there anytime I like without paying an extra dime.  I'm hoping to increase the number of my visits this year and I know I'll enjoy the special exhibitions and hopefully make a concert or two.  I hope this entry inspires you to visit and support your local museums by visiting or joining.  There is a wonderful world of art out there for all of us to learn from and explore.  Carpe Diem!


  1. I'd love to see you sachet in the MfA... brings up images of sniffing aromatic herbs somehow matched to the art you're looking at. Though I believe you meant sashay. :-)

  2. you're right - i did mean sashay, but you've given me an idea for my next trip... and possibly a blog entry after that! lol!