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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.

Art of the Theatre (Afternoon, 4/1/16)

  • Rehearsal of the Pasdeloup...

    Slide Notes

    Jules Étienne Pasdeloup, who conducted an orchestra in Paris from 1861 to 1887, championed such modern composers as Richard Wagner and Gabriel Fauré. He rehearsed at the Cirque d'Hiver, a building used for indoor entertainments like the circus. Sargent, an ardent amateur musician, frequently attended the concerts and painted them several times. This picture is his most abstract treatment of the subject and represents one of his boldest experimentations with Impressionism. The picture's monochrome palette, painterly execution, and energetic composition suggest both the dance of musical notes across a page and the vital sound of the music itself.

    Details

    Rehearsal of the Pasdeloup Orchestra at the Cirque d'Hiver

    about 1879–80

    John Singer Sargent, American, 1856–1925

    Dimensions

    57.15 x 46.04 cm (22 1/2 x 18 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    22.598

    Collections
    Americas
    On View
    Bernard & B.S. Shapiro Gallery (Sargent) - 232 More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • The Bridge

    Slide Notes

    Besotted with tales of medieval knights and ladies, Abbey collected fabrics, read medieval histories, and studied original artifacts to ensure the authenticity of his work. Here he depicts a troubadour (a traveling musician and poet) perched on the edge of a bridge outside a walled town, tuning a mandolin while a group of monks looks on. In a letter to his friend and future fiancée Mary Gertrude Mead on May 15, 1889, Abbey described his troubadours—a type he had used in a number of paintings in the 1880s and 1890s—as “Gringoirish Barnaby Rudge kind of Blondel-like,” his characterization encompassing two medieval minstrels and the character of a fool from Charles Dickens’s "Barnaby Rudge." Abbey is best known for his historical and literary scenes, including murals in the Boston Public Library illustrating the Quest for the Holy Grail.

    Details

    The Bridge

    1898

    Edwin Austin Abbey, American, 1852–1911

    Dimensions

    Height x width: 40 x 28 in. (101.6 x 71.1 cm)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    2008.2

    Collections
    Americas
    On View
    Bressler Gallery (Arts & Crafts Movement) - 222 More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Head of a Mime Figurine

    Slide Notes

    It wasn’t unusual for those perceived to be “ugly” or physically deformed to work as entertainers. This head belonged to a figurine representing a farcical actor whose seemingly exaggerated features were actually his own. Museum purchase with funds donated by contribution, 1901 01.7625

    Details

    Head of a mime figurine

    2nd–1st century B.C.

    Dimensions

    5 cm (1 15/16 in.)

    Medium

    Terracotta

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    01.7625

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    A grotesque face with an extremely exaggerated nose, large ears, squinted eyes, a twisted mouth, and contorted tongue. This is an exaggerated version of a facial type widely documented in the Hellenistic period. This characterization is probably that of a mime.

    Multimedia

  • Two-Handled Jar with Actors...

    Slide Notes

    Men played all roles in Greek drama, including women. Here is a rare view of two actors getting ready to perform. One pulls on boots with upturned toes (kothornoi); he wears a cloth band around his head to prevent chafing from his tragic mask, on the ground in front of him. The other, already dressed, holds out a woman’s cloak and takes careful steps and extends his arm, perhaps rehearsing. He wears a life-like mask (prosopon), with an up-do hairstyle bound with a headband, and a long, draped garment (chiton) pinned at the shoulder. The costumes suggest these actors are playing foreign women, possibly Thracians from the Black Sea region, or maenads, Dionysos’s female followers.

    Details

    Two-handled jar (pelike) with actors preparing for a performance

    about 440–430 B.C.

    the Phiale Painter (also known as the Boston Phiale Painter)

    Dimensions

    Height: 24.1 cm (9 1/2 in.); diameter: 18 cm (7 1/16 in.)

    Medium

    Ceramic, Red Figure

    Classification

    Vessels

    Accession Number

    98.883

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Side A: Actors dressing. Youth dressed as a woman, and another youth. Side B: Bearded man in mantle, profile to left. Repaired with slight restoration. [Label text]: The scene on this pelike shows two actors preparing for a performance. One young man has already donned his costume. His companion dresses before putting on his mask which lies on the ground between the two figures. The actors are dressed as women, as all parts in the Greek theater were played by men. The costumes are comprised of a chiton (a typical woman's garment), a kerchief around the hair, and high boots in addition to the mask. The boots may indicate that these men are portraying women from the Northern region of Thrace.

    Multimedia

  • No Masks

    Slide Notes

    "The highly refined and understated No theater became an essential part of formal receptions hosted by the shogun and his retainers. The setting for the performances was minimalist; a stage with a back wall ornamented with a single painted pine tree and covered by a cypress-bark roof. No was simple in its dramatic structure, noted for its slow, studied movements and subtle masks. In contrast, the multi-layered robes worn by the actors were most often richly colored, complex brocades." (wall text)

    Details

    No mask of the Akobujo type

    15th–16th century

    Artist Unknown, Japanese

    Dimensions

    20.2 x 15.2 x 8.2 cm (7 15/16 x 6 x 3 1/4 in.) (h x w x d)

    Medium

    Japanese cypress

    Classification

    Masks

    Accession Number

    05.226

    Collections
    Asia More Info

    Description

    Multimedia