This is one of five paintings featuring the MFA’s collection executed by Enrico Meneghelli, an Italian-born artist who worked in Boston and New York. Little is known about Meneghelli; even his death date remains uncertain. His known oeuvre includes a small number of landscapes, several street...
This is one of five paintings featuring the MFA’s collection executed by Enrico Meneghelli, an Italian-born artist who worked in Boston and New York. Little is known about Meneghelli; even his death date remains uncertain. His known oeuvre includes a small number of landscapes, several street scenes, and at least one still life, but his specialty was the depiction of museum interiors. Paintings documenting collections, both real and imagined [1975.805], first became popular in Europe in the seventeenth century; among the earliest American examples are Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre (1831–33, Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago), which shows an imaginative display of works selected from the Louvre’s collection, and Amasa Hewins’s The Tribuna of the Uffizi [L-R 65.2010][JMS1] , a view of one of the most admired museum galleries of the day. Meneghelli’s pictures feature the actual installations of well-known art galleries, among them the Boston Athenaeum and the Louvre. The largest group shows spaces in the original Museum of Fine Arts building in Copley Square. Founded in 1870, the Museum opened to the public on July 4, 1876. John Sturgis and Charles Brigham designed its Italian Gothic revival building, inspired by London’s then new and innovative South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). Their original plans also encompassed two projected expansions: one completed in 1879 and one in 1890. While the first item to enter the MFA’s collection was Elijah in the Desert [70.1] by the American painter Washington Allston, the Museum collected and displayed a wide range of material, including Greek vases and Egyptian mummies, European decorative arts and paintings, Japanese arms, and plaster casts of the great sculpture of antiquity and the Renaissance. As was common practice, the galleries were crowded with objects and paintings were hung salon style, one over the other. The Picture Gallery in the Old Museum features a salon-style installation in the second-floor Paintings Gallery as it appeared after the expanded Museum reopened in mid-1879. The large painting with the dogs is The Quarry [18.620] by Gustave Courbet, then on loan and later purchased by the Museum. Below it hangs Thomas Couture’s Two Soldiers (Study for “The Enrollment of the Volunteers of 1792”) [77.236]. Head of a Man, the small work at the left, halfway up the wall, was then attributed to Tintoretto but was later discovered to be by another, unknown hand and is no longer in the collection. Notes 1. “About the MFA,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, http://www.mfa.org/about/ [http://www.mfa.org/about/]; for more on the MFA’s history, see Maureen Melton, An Invitation to Art: A History of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston [http://www.mfashop.com/780878467457.html] (Boston: MFA Publications, 2009). Karen E. Quinn [JMS1]The Hewins will be formally accessioned at the January 26 Board of Trustees meeting. An accession number will be assigned after that.
Lower right: E. Meneghelli 1879.
1879, the artist. Before 1912, Hollis French (1868-1940), Boston; 1912, gift of Hollis French to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 12, 1912)
Gift of Hollis French