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’sThe 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. View of a Gallery in the Museum of Fine Arts, Copley Square [69.1124] depicts the east wall of the second-floor Picture Gallery looking into the Hall, located on the west side of the building. Visible over the arched doorway is the lower part of GustaveDoré’s Summer [73.8]; to the left of the doorway is a sliver of the right side of Giovanni Pannini’s Picture Gallery with Views of Modern Rome [1975.805] (then on loan from the Boston Athenaeum, but acquired by the MFA in 1975); and an equally small part of Interior of Saint Peter’s, Rome (still owned by the Boston Athenaeum, but at that time on loan to the MFA), also by Pannini, can be seen at the upper right. Almost half of Return from Market [71.3] by François Boucher can be seen in the Hall, hanging behind a pulpit door inlaid with ivory and ebony from a mosque in Cairo [77.1]. 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]This loan number is a placeholder. The Hewins will be formally accessioned at the January 26 Board of Trustees meeting. An accession number will be assigned after that. See also entries 2–5.
Lower left: E. Meneghelli. 1877.
1877, the artist. By 1968, with Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York; 1969, gift of Hirschl and Adler Galleries to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 23, 1969)
Gift of Hirschl and Adler Galleries, N.Y.C.