Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Yes, wonderful things"- Howard Carter

A few weeks ago, I finally took my husband up on a long standing invitation of his. Every month he spends a weekend in Boston for work and his company puts him up in a hotel on Saturday night and for, oh,  four years or so, he's been asking me to spend the weekend in Boston with him occasionally.

I finally took him up on his invitation earlier this month. After one extremely early ride in- leaving at 5:30 am to be there by 7am, UGH- I waved good-bye to him with much /glee and (at the mildly civilized hour of 8:30 am) set off for South Station.  One short T-ride later and I was waiting for the Museum of Fine Arts to open.

I spent several glorious hours- and one over priced lunch- there.   My last visit had been during my junior year in high school when they hosted the Ansel Adams exhibit, so it had been awhile and I was looking forward to seeing what the Museum had now, 14 years later.

Ugh, it really has been that long hasn't it?

Anyway, I dimly remembered my art instructor saying that the Ancient World and Asian collections were considered world class so I was determined to view them on this visit.  Since the Jewelry (amazing) and the Musical Instruments (the craftsman ship is spectacular) galleries were on the way, I toured those first.  They have some of the early examples of organs, harpsichords, spinets, and pianos there- really neat to see the progression over the years.  I also couldn't help remembering my piano lessons and imagining other bored little girls sitting at those instruments and trying to learn their chords years ago.

The Ancient World and Asian collections lived up to their 14 yr old hype- my vocabulary isn't strong enough to fully describe the wonder of seeing funerary pieces, mummies, and artwork created so long ago that, in many cases, there are only best guesses to what period in history they came from.

Tucked away on the second floor in the Asian and Oceana collection was a recreation of a Chinese lord's house with furniture and even clothing examples dating  back almost a thousand years.   Despite the velvet ropes and barriers, it was almost as if  the original owners were going about their daily lives; and that if I were to turn around fast enough I could see them there as they had once been.

I  was also able to walk through about a third of the Art of the Americas collection (ranging from the Tolmecs through modern day)- mainly the colonial and revolutionary periods in American art.

Some of my favorite pictures:

Examples of early pottery work in the Ancient World collection.   Love the colors!   The black coloration occurred during the firing process- they would put the clay pots top down in the ash to harden them- the iron and chemicals in the ash and soot would react with the trace elements (usually iron) in the clay and turn black.

The earliest known depiction of a hair service- proving my industry's claim of being always in demand!

Bust of a Roman soldier (general I think) and proof that military hair cuts haven't changed over the years.

Examples of Paul Revere's work as a silversmith.   The man was a genius and an artist. These pieces just about took over the entire gallery.  You could not ignore them.

This is probably my favorite piece from that trip- it's such a charming snapshot of childhood, you just have to smile. An oil painting by Copley, at one time the premier artist in America, was commissioned to paint the patron's daughter and instead of creating a more formal and adult setting/pose for the little girl as was the usual habit- he painted her playing dress up with one of her mother's hats and her cat.

Later that evening, when my husband asked if I'd enjoyed my visit and about what I'd seen, Howard Carter's famous description of what he saw in Tutenkamun's tomb came to mind:

"Yes, wonderful things."

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