The Yard & The Art

Everything about Harvard commands respect: the Institution, the studies, the buildings and – my personal favourite – the art. If Harvard were a car, it would have been a Rolls-Royce. As things stand, Harvard is one of the top Universities in the world and, as we are about to find out, boasts an astonishing art collection that can be viewed at the Harvard Art Museums. The use of plural is intentional, because there are actually three Museums – the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger and the Arthur M. Sackler – consolidated under one roof just outside the Harvard Yard, in the newly renovated building on 32 Quincy St., re-designed and extended by (you guessed it) Renzo Piano.

John Harvard (1607–1638)


Max Beckmann (1884 – 1950)
Self-Portrait in Tuxedo, 1927
Oil on canvas


Franz von Stuck (1863-1928)
Wounded Amazon, 1905
Oil on canvas


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Self-Portrait with Cat, 1920
Oil on commercially woven cotton fabric


Victor Grippo (1936 – 2002)
Analogia I, 1970-71
electric circuits, electric meter and switch, potatoes, ink, paper, paint and wood


Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Eugénie Graff (Madame Paul), 1882
Oil on canvas


Robert Gober (b. 1954)
Untitled, 2009-10
Plaster, beeswax, human hair, cotton, leather, aluminium pull tabs, enamel paint


Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Seated Bather, c. 1883-84
Oil on canvas


William Holman Hunt, (1827 – 1910)
The Miracle of the Sacred Fire, Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem / The Miracle of the Holy Fire, 1892-99
Mixture of oil and resin on canvas

Hunt, a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and a painter of religious subjects, made four trips to the Holy Land. This painting represents the annual “miracle of the sacred fire” at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Denounced as a fraud for centuries, the event continued to attract thousands of pilgrims, who eagerly awaited the rekindling of the flame over Christ’s purported tomb. Hunt found the scene, with its crush of bodies, to be distasteful and heretical, but was keen to capture its “dramatic, historic, and picturesque” qualities. When the painting was exhibited in London in 1899, he was obliged to provide a key to the complex array of figures. The flame, borne by a priest to the right of the shrine, is barely visible. An English woman at the lower right, protecting her children from the spectacle, serves as a surrogate for the curious viewer and a contrast to the expectant pilgrim family in the foreground.


Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Eternal Idol, 1893
Marble


The Renzo Piano effect


Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Victor Chocquet, c. 1875
Oil on canvas

An employee at the Ministry of Finance, Victor Chocquet (1821–1891) met Degas in 1875, and by the second impressionist exhibition, in 1876, had become an avid supporter of the progressive artistic movement, collecting works by Renoir, Monet, and Cézanne. Here Renoir paints his new friend and patron dressed in casual attire. With his hands informally clasped across the bottom left corner of the canvas, Chocquet’s pose suggests the sitter’s closeness with the painter. Chocquet had identified Renoir as the inheritor of the romantic painter Eugène Delacroix’s approach to color. Renoir acknowledges this compliment and pays homage to the celebrated colorist by including one of Delacroix’s preparatory studies from Chocquet’s collection in the background. The study was for a lunette in the Hôtel de Ville (Paris city hall), which was destroyed in 1871.


There will be more art from the Harvard Art Museums in the coming days, the collection is vast and spans centuries, styles and continents.

May 3rd, 2017

 

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