Boston's Arts

Study for Seated Figures in "El Jaleo" by John Singer Sargent in the Harvard Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts (LEO Design)


The Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University is wonderful.  It's not very large—in fact, it is quite manageable for a two hour visit.  But the collection includes works by many of the greats: studies and lesser-known paintings.

Shown above, a study of the seated figures for John Singer Sargent's El Jaleo, 1882 (the final painting which hangs in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, also in Boston).  Sargent is my favorite "modern era" artist.  With such economy, spontaneity and confidence—with just a few brush strokes—the 26 year old artist was able to paint a white skirt, conveying brilliantly how the fabric drapes over the woman's legs beneath and how the light plays off of the folds of her garment. Genius!


The Breakfast Table by John Singer Sargent in the Harvard Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts (LEO Design)


Shown above, another painting by Sargent, painted when he was 28 years old.  Here he captures his sister, Violet, at the family breakfast table (in the South of France), peeling an orange while she reads her book.


Red Mullets Still Life by Claude Monet in the Harvard Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts (LEO Design)


To me, a little Claude Monet always seems to go a long way.  And then I happen upon one of his works which defies my expectations.  This still life painting, titled Red Mullets (c. 1870), is enchanting in its modesty—and the beauty conjured from such a mundane subject.


Nocturne in Blue and Silver by James McNeill Whistler in the Harvard Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts (LEO Design)


The Fogg Museum at Harvard also holds a collection of paintings by James McNeill Whistler.  Shown above, Nocturne in Blue and Silver (c. 1871-1872), about which art critic John Ruskin publicly accused Whistler of "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." Whistler sued Ruskin for libel and won—however, the artist was awarded a single farthing in damages (that is a quarter of a penny; about 10 pence today).


Three Pairs of Shoes by Vincent van Gogh in the Harvard Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts (LEO Design)


And then there's Vincent van Gogh.  This unusual picture, titled Three Pairs of Shoes (1886-1887), is painted over an earlier picture of flamboyant flowers in a vase.  This still life demonstrates the artist's alacrity with brushwork and composition—and seems to honor the humble honesty of the laborers who may have worn these boots.


House Curtain and Gilded Ceiling in the Boston Opera House (LEO Design)


The evening—and my principle reason for visiting Boston—was to attend the premiere of my husband's ballet, Raymonda, at the Boston Ballet.  He designed the sets and costumes. It was beautiful.

The venue, the Boston Opera House,  began life in 1928 as a first-run movie theatre called the B. F. Keith Memorial Theatre.  During its first year, it also staged vaudeville programs. In 1980, the movie house was converted into an opera house.  Today it is the performing home of the Boston Ballet and touring productions of Broadway shows.

The ambitious and exuberant interior decor typifies the most flamboyant of the pre-war movie palaces.  Going to the pictures was a glorious and glamorous event.  Shown above, part of the stage's proscenium, house curtain and gilded ceiling.


Presidential Memorabilia in the Back Hallway of the Boston Operahouse (LEO Design)


The backstage hallways of the theatre are signed by the casts of various Broadway shows which pass-through.  In 2010, President Barack Obama visited the opera house—and indulged one hallway wall with his signature and a call to "Support the Arts!".


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