Now Available: 6,900 additional images from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has contributed approximately 6,900 additional images* of works in diverse media across its broad and comprehensive collecting areas to the Artstor Digital Library. The extensive selection in Artstor features highlights from the encyclopedic collection including ancient works from different cultures; the arts of many countries across Asia; icons of western painting, both European and American; works on paper; sculpture and decorative arts; and the creations and artifacts of indigenous civilizations across the Americas.
The museum’s current contribution to Artstor also encompasses diverse curatorial areas. There is a particular emphasis on decorative arts and works on paper from the Asian (especially Chinese), American, and European departments.
One of the museum’s most beloved works from China is the painting Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk, early 12th century, attributed to the Northern Song Emperor Huizong, a handscroll nearly 6 feet long (8 feet with colophons) executed on silk. A second scroll painting from the Southern Song Dynasty, Four Dragons, mid-13th century (above), was made on paper and the painted surface extends 8 feet.
The comparison of some Asian and European works from the current contribution provokes some cross-cultural musing, as, for example, French and Japanese fashion prints from the late 18th century: Pierre-Thomas LeClerc’s “Grande Robe Françoise…,” an engraving from a collection of 1784, embodies Rococo extravagance, while a woodblock by Isoda Koryûsa Kiyohana of the Kado-Tamaya, 1776, exudes elegance.
Further, one might consider the porcelain traditions of east and west: A Song Dynasty Jun ware Jar, c. 960-1279, with a lustrous and delicate glaze and minute craquelure, alongside a Tureen, c.1730-1735, from the Du Paquier Factory in Vienna, advertising the taste for “chinoiserie,” replete with Chinese figures and topped by a fierce Dog of Fo, the traditional defender of Buddhist temples.
The new contribution also includes a wide array of Western prints, illustrated here by Rembrandt’s diminutive etching Landscape with Cottage, 1641, and hundreds of works on paper by John Singer Sargent, including the watercolor Poperinghe: Two Soldiers, 1918, painted in Belgium toward the end of World War I.
While today the Museum’s holdings include nearly 450,000 objects, the collection numbered fewer than 6,000 works when it was founded on Copley Square in 1870. In 1907, the trustees hired architect Guy Lowell to design a new building on Huntington Avenue—Neoclassical with an imposing façade and a grand rotunda, it remains the home of the museum. Over the years, numerous additions have enlarged the original structure. In 2010, the museum completed a major renovation project designed by Foster and Partners that expanded the existing exhibition, conservation, and visitor facilities. The Museum welcomes more than one million visitors annually, drawn by its rich and diverse permanent collection, a vibrant exhibition program and extensive educational facilities.
The museum is affiliated with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, established in 1876. In 2016, the School became part of Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston collection is being released as part of a thematic launch on major North American museums that also includes selections from: the Art Gallery of Ontario; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Cincinnati Art Museum; the Museo de Arte de Ponce; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Norton Simon Museum; the Philadelphia Art Museum and the Seattle Art Museum.
The MFA, Boston has also contributed an archaeological collection to the Artstor Digital Library: Giza Archaeological Expedition Archive (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).