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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

American Colonies/American Revolution

  • Paul Revere and Silverware

    Slide Notes

    This artist, John Singleton Copley, is one of the most well known Early American artists. This painting is Copley’s only finished portrait of an artisan at work, dressed casually in shirtsleeves.

    Long before he earned fame as a patriot, Paul Revere Jr. was a well known silversmith and engraver. When Copley painted this portrait, Revere was an accomplished, well-established silversmith. He cradles his chin in his right hand and regards the viewer as if he has just looked up from the teapot in his left hand. The teapot is finished but remains undecorated, and the engraving tools at Revere's elbow attest to the work still to come.

     

    Viewing Questions:

    1.What act do you associate most with Paul Revere? How does this image change or differ with your idea of Revere’s identity?

    2. Paul Revere was a wealthy man by the time Copley painted this portrait. Why does Copley show him in his work clothes? What message does this send about Revere?

    Details

    Paul Revere

    1768

    John Singleton Copley, American, 1738–1815

    Dimensions

    89.22 x 72.39 cm (35 1/8 x 28 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    30.781

    Collections
    Americas
    On View
    Lynch Gallery (Colonial Boston) - 132 More Info

    Teapot

    1760–65

    Paul Revere, Jr., American, 1734–1818

    Dimensions

    Overall: 14.9cm (5 7/8in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    35.1775

    Collections
    Americas
    On View
    Lynch Gallery (Colonial Boston) - 132 More Info

    Description


    Multimedia


  • Liberty Cup

    Slide Notes

    This simple punch bowl is one of the most celebrated and imitated examples of colonial American silver. Its reputation is not based on any unique aspect of its style or form, but on the cause it commemorates. The Liberty Bowl honored ninety-two members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to apologize for protesting the Townshend Acts of 1767, which taxed tea, paper, glass, and other commodities imported from England. This act of civil disobedience by the "Glorious Ninety-Two" was a major step leading to the American Revolution

    Hint: Click the “Artwork Info” tab to read Revere’s full inscription on the bowl.

     

    Viewing Questions:
     

    1. The Sons of Liberty used the bowl to serve punch at their secret meetings. What effect do you think this had on the discussions? What did the bowl remind the members of the Sons of Liberty?

     

    Details

    Sons of Liberty Bowl

    1768

    Paul Revere, Jr., American, 1734–1818

    Dimensions

    Overall: 14 x 27.9 cm (5 1/2 x 11 in.) Other (Base): 14.8cm (5 13/16in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    49.45

    Collections
    Americas
    On View
    Lynch Gallery (Colonial Boston) - 132 More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • The Boston Massacre

    Slide Notes

    The presence of British troops in Boston angered Boston's radical colonists. Paul Revere used the Boston Massacre to highlight British tyranny and stir up anti-British feelings in the colonies. This picture is an excellent example of American propaganda.

    1. How could a picture like this be used to inspire anti-British feelings? How are the British shown? How are the Americans shown?

    2. In an age without electronic technology, pictures like this engraving would be an important form of information. What is Revere showing in this engraving? What is he trying to express?

    3. Use the magnifying tool to look closer at this piece. Describe the details about the time of day, the people involved, and the location.

    Details

    The Boston Massacre

    1770

    Paul Revere, Jr., American, 1734–1818

    Dimensions

    Framed: 36.8 x 33 x 2.9 cm (14 1/2 x 13 x 1 1/8 in.) Overall: 36.2 x 33cm (14 1/4 x 13in.) Other (Sight; Sight measurement of print): 26 x 21.9cm (10 1/4 x 8 5/8in.)

    Medium

    Engraving, hand-colored with watercolor and gold pigment by Christian Remick

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    67.1165

    Collections
    Prints and Drawings More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Boston Massacre, John Bufford

    Slide Notes

    Compare this image to the Paul Revere print. Both pictures were created by colonists. What are the main differences?

    -Where is Crispus Attucks (African-American casualty) in each picture?

    Details

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Death of General Wolfe/ French and...

    Slide Notes

    There is little “truth" to be found in The Death of General Wolfe. The dying General Wolfe is the focus of the composition. West paints Wolfe lying down at the moment of his death wearing the red uniform of a British officer. A circle of identifiable men attend to their dying commander. Historians know that only one—Lieutenant Henry Browne, who holds the British flag above Wolfe—was present at the General’s death.

    Clearly, West took artistic license in creating a dramatic composition, from the theatrical clouds to the messenger approaching on the left side of the painting to announce the British victory over the Marquis de Montcalm and his French army in this decisive battle. Previous artists, such as James Barry, painted this same event in a more documentary, true-to-life style. West was keenly (very) interested in giving his viewers a unique view of this North American scene. This was partly achieved through landscape and architecture. The St. Lawrence River appears on the right side of the composition and the steeple represents the cathedral in the city of Quebec. In addition to the landscape, West also depicts a tattooed Native American on the left side of the painting. Shown in what is now the universal pose of contemplation, the Native American firmly situates this as an event from the New World, making the composition all the more exciting to a largely English audience.

    Details

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Bunker Hill

    Slide Notes

    John Trumbull wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, “The greatest motive I had or have for engaging in, or for continuing my pursuit of painting, has been the wish of commemorating the great events of our country’s revolution.” He believed that accurate images of the Revolutionary War would be important for the culture and politics of the new nation.

    The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, 17 June 1775 was the first Revolutionary War subject that Trumbull completed. Joseph Warren was one of the key players in the events leading up to the outbreak of war. A physician, Warren also plunged into politics in the late 1760s as the author of persuasive anti-crown literature, an orator of eloquent speeches, and an underground revolutionary leader. He accepted a commission as a major general on June 14, 1775, but he was killed as a volunteer three days later at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

     

    Viewing Questions:

    1.How does Trumbull create movement in this work? Do you think his experiences at war helped him paint this dynamic composition? What do you see that helps you form your answer?

    2.What is the significance of the title, which includes the date? What is the effect of Trumbull painting a contemporary event?

    3.What else is happening in this picture? Who else is wounded? Do you think either side is winning?

    4.How does Trumbull use color to draw attention to the fallen General Warren? What other components of the painting direct attention to Warren?

    Details

    The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, 17 June, 1775

    after 1815–before 1831

    John Trumbull, American, 1756–1843

    Dimensions

    50.16 x 75.56 cm (19 3/4 x 29 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1977.853

    Collections
    Americas
    On View
    Liberty Mutual Gallery (Am. Artists Abroad) - 136 More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • George Washington at Dorchester...

    Slide Notes

    Gilbert Stuart devoted much time during his artistic career to depiction of the country’s first president. Born in Rhode Island, Stuart spent time studying in Europe. Upon his return to the United States, he became successful as a portrait painter. By the time Stuart painted this image of George Washington, he was the unofficial painter of the new nation. The event Stuart commemorated with this work, Washington at Dorchester Heights, took place during the Revolutionary War.

     In March of 1776, Washington’s troops occupied the fortified (protected) Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston. Their position forced the British fleet to leave Boston Harbor. Stuart portrayed Washington in this work as much older than he was at the time of this event. Washington appears with white hair and a mature face, looking like a president rather than a young soldier.

     

    Viewing Questions:

    1. Portraits often send a message about the identity of their sitters, while portraits of political or military leaders can function as representations of the nation. What does this portrait of Washington say about the new United States? What do you see that helps you with your answer?

    2. What details of dress, pose, and composition did Gilbert include to make Washington look like a leader?

     

    Details

    Washington at Dorchester Heights

    1806

    Gilbert Stuart, American, 1755–1828

    Dimensions

    274.95 x 180.34 cm (108 1/4 x 71 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    L-R 30.76a

    Collections
    Americas
    On View
    Servison Gallery (New Nation, 1815–1830) - 133 More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • John Trumbell "Signing of the...

    Slide Notes

    This scene depicts the Second Continental Congress where the delegates presented their draft of the Declaration to Congress. The scene takes place in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    The main figures (left to right) are: John Adams [Massachusetts],Roger Sherman [Connecticut], Robert Livingston [New York], Thomas Jefferson [Virginia], and Benjamin Franklin [Pennsylvania].

     

    Details

    Description

    Multimedia