To celebrate my birthday on Wednesday, I played hooky from work and paid another visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This time I was accompanied by my lovely wife Susan!
As aficionados of Dutch Golden Age art, we made our way first to the special exhibit Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer. The name is misleading as there is only one work by Vermeer and a handful by Rembrandt. This is not a bad thing as a number of their contemporaries painted some excellent scenes of of 17th-century Dutch life. Jan Steen stood out as a favorite of mine. Art was unusually popular among all income levels in the Netherlands of that era, although not usually art as fine as that on exhibit. The exhibit is arranged to show art depicting the upper, middle, and lower classes each within their own gallery, with a fourth gallery collecting works that show the different classes interacting. Sebastian Smee has a great review of the exhibit in today’s Boston Globe that focuses on the social effect of the exhibit.
Photography was not allowed in the exhibit, so below is a list of my favorite works in the exhibit:
- Jan Steen – Portrait of Jacoba Maria van Wassenaer (1654-1683), known as ‘The Poultry Yard’ (1660).
- Frans Hals – Regents of the St Elizabeth Hospital of Haarlem (1641)
- Pieter de Hooch- The Courtyard of a House in Delft (1658)
- Rembrandt van Rijn – The Shipbuilder and his Wife (1633)
- Quiringh Gerritsz van Brekelenkam – The Tailor’s Workshop (1661)
- Jan Steen – Peasants Merrymaking Outside an Inn (1645-50)
- Jacob Ochtervelt – Street Musicians at the Door (1665)
If you look at these paintings on your computer, make sure to zoom in on all the tiny details. The curators on the audio guide were particularly ecstatic about the brushwork.
After finishing that exhibit, Susan picked out a small but spiffy exhibit of American ceramics from the 20th century and then we wondered among the Art of the Americas gallery where we stumbled on a few surprises.