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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.

Weaving Poetry & Art: Connections Between Verse & Image

  • A Capriote

    Slide Notes

    Looking Questions:
    1. What is the setting of this painting? Consider time period, time of day and location. What do you see in the painting to indicate that?
    2. How do you think the woman feels to be in this setting? Why?

    Read the poem "Arbolé, Arbolé…," by Federico Garcia Lorca, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. Is the subject of this painting absorbed in her natural setting like the way the girl in the poem is? How so?
    2. How many direct visual correlations to the words of the poem can you find?

    Details

    A Capriote

    1878

    John Singer Sargent, American, 1856–1925

    Dimensions

    76.83 x 63.18 cm (30 1/4 x 24 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    46.10

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

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Dante and Beatrice

    Slide Notes

    Looking Questions:
    1. What is the relationship between the two figures? Why do you think so?
    2. Do either of the figures seem somewhat supernatural or unearthly to you? Which one? Why or why not? How does this figure compare to the other?

    Read the excerpt from Paradiso (canto 1), in The Divine Comedy, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. Where do you see the correlation(s) between the painting and the poem?

    2. What aspects of the poem have literal translations in this painting?
    3. Are there subtle connections between the two that are less evident at first glance? If so, what are they?

    Details

    Dante and Beatrice

    1851

    Ary Scheffer, Dutch (active in France), 1795–1858

    Dimensions

    180 x 99 cm (70 7/8 x 39 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    21.1283

    Collections
    Europe
    On View
    Rosenberg Gallery (Europ. Art 1830-1920) -252 More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Horse

    Slide Notes

    Looking Questions:
    1. What kind of person do you think owned or rode this horse? Why?
    2. Why do you think the artist would have chosen to portray the horse in this manner, with its head bent and mouth open? What kind of impression does it leave, as opposed to the impression left by a different kind of pose?

    Read the poem "Hibiscus Flowers" by Basho, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. Haiku are, by nature, very visual poems. Is the image in your mind after reading Basho's haiku similar to this sculpture? Different?
    2. Although the focus of the poem is the hibiscus flowers, the focus of the sculpture is the horse. How does this pairing make you reconsider the prominence of the horse in the poem?

    Details

    Horse

    early 8th century A.D.

    Dimensions

    59.05 cm (23 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Earthenware with three-color glaze

    Classification

    Ceramics, Pottery, Earthenware

    Accession Number

    27.2

    Collections
    Asia
    On View
    Bernat Gallery (Han & Tang China) - 274 More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Poppy Field in a Hollow near...

    Slide Notes

    Looking Question:
    What visual details does Monet use to distinguish the poppies from the rest of the landscape? Think in terms of formal elements (i.e. line, color, texture, and so on).

    Read the poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    In the poem, Wordsworth describes the delight of seeing a field of "golden" daffodils. Yellow is often associated with happiness--does the fact that Monet's field of flowers are red poppies change this mood? Why or why not?

    Details

    Poppy Field in a Hollow near Giverny

    1885

    Claude Monet, French, 1840–1926

    Dimensions

    65.1 x 81.3 cm (25 5/8 x 32 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    25.106

    Collections
    Europe More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Fantastic Inkwell (Self-Portrait...

    Slide Notes

    Looking Questions:
    1. Look closely and describe this sculpture. Then consider the bust of the woman alone, disregarding the fantastical elements. What impression do you get from her clothing and her expression? How does this change when you factor in her wings and claws?
    2. If you were to depict yourself as a mythical creature, what would you choose? How would you combine the creature with an image of yourself without losing what makes each identifiable?

    Vocabulary: bust - a sculpture, painting, drawing, or engraving representing the upper part of the human figure (especially a portrait sculpture showing only the head and shoulders of the subject.

    Read the poem "The Sphinx" by Mathilde Blind, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. Who is the wanderer in Blind's poem? Why do you think she only reveals what (or who) the wanderer meets only in the last line?
    2. What is the tone of Blind's poem? Does this sculpture inspire the same kind of reverence as the Sphinx in the poem?
    3. How does this sculpture compare to the monumental Sphinx in Egypt? Which sculpture seems more connected with the poem, if either? Why?

    Details

    Fantastic Inkwell (Self-Portrait as a Sphinx)

    1880

    Sarah Bernhardt, French, 1844–1923

    Dimensions

    Overall (without base): 31.8 x 34.9 x 31.8 cm (12 1/2 x 13 3/4 x 12 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Bronze

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    1973.551a-d

    Collections
    Europe More Info

    Description

    Depicted with bat's wings, and griffon's tail, a horned skull supporting inkwell. Her profession as actress depicted by Tragic and Comic masks as epaulettes on her shoulders.

    Multimedia

  • Fall of the Rhine at Schaffhausen

    Slide Notes

    Looking Questions:
    1. Use the Zoom feature to get a better look at this painting. Who are all the figures, and what are they in the middle of doing?
    2. How does the landscape interact with the figures? What is the mood it creates and what effect does this have on your conception of the narrative of the painting--is the mood promising or ominous, and why?

    Read the poem "The Story of My Life" by Rumi, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. How does the scale of the figures in the painting in relation to the landscape relate to the themes in Rumi's poem?
    2. The poem progresses through a number of emotions. Is there one stanza or group of stanzas that matches the mood of the painting best? Which one(s)?

    Details

    Fall of the Rhine at Schaffhausen

    about 1805–06

    Joseph Mallord William Turner, English, 1775–1851

    Dimensions

    148.6 x 239.7 cm (58 1/2 x 94 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    13.2723

    Collections
    Europe
    On View
    Beal Gallery (Europ. Art 1800-1870) - 251 More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Buckwheat Harvest, Summer

    Slide Notes

    Looking Question:
    What can you guess from the painting about the division of labor between men and women? What jobs are women doing, and what jobs are men doing? Why do you think this is the case?

    Read the poem "The Labourer" by Toolsy Daby, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. What are the working conditions Daby describes in his poem? Do the figures in the painting seem to work under similar conditions? Why or why not?
    2. Daby describes the laborer's feelings after a day at work, while the workers in the painting have not yet finished and gone home. Does this temporal difference change the mood? Your reactions? Why or why not?

    Details

    Buckwheat Harvest, Summer

    1868–74

    Jean-François Millet, French, 1814–1875

    Dimensions

    85.4 x 111.1 cm (33 5/8 x 43 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    17.1533

    Collections
    Europe
    On View
    Beal Gallery (Europ. Art 1800-1870) - 251 More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Aristide Bruant in his Cabaret

    Slide Notes

    Looking Question:
    What kind of man is Aristide Bruant, judging from this image? Consider elements such as clothing and facial expression.

    Read the poem "Le Chat Noir" by Aristide Bruant, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. Does your original opinion of Aristide change after reading the poem and listening to the song (available under Related Resources)?
    2. Does the image complement or contradict your impression of the man who wrote and performed that song? Why?

    Details

    Aristide Bruant in his Cabaret

    1893

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French, 1864–1901

    Dimensions

    Sight: 138.4 x 96.5 cm (54 1/2 x 38 in.) Framed: 145.4 x 105.4 x 3.8 cm (57 1/4 x 41 1/2 x 1 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Poster, color lithograph printed in black, red, green, and gray, proof before letters

    Classification

    Prints, Posters

    Accession Number

    56.1190

    Collections
    Prints and Drawings More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Claesz still lifes

    Slide Notes

    Looking Questions:
    1. How does the artist reshuffle the common elements to create two different paintings? Which painting do you like better and why?
    2. If you were to paint a picture of a meal today, what would it look like? What foods would be added or subtracted, if any?

    Read the poem "Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market" by Pablo Neruda, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. In what ways do the poet and artist draw attention to objects that we might not notice otherwise? Do their renderings change the way you look at something like a fish?
    2. How do the different settings (a marketplace and a dinner table, respectively) frame the objects? What tone do these settings convey?

    Details

    Still Life with Stoneware Jug, Wine Glass, Herring, and Bread

    1642

    Pieter Claesz., Dutch, about 1597–1660

    Dimensions

    29.8 x 35.8 cm (11 3/4 x 14 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    13.458

    Collections
    Europe
    On View
    Remis Gallery (European Art 1600-1800) - 244 More Info

    Still Life with Silver Brandy Bowl, Wine Glass, Herring, and Bread

    1642

    Pieter Claesz., Dutch, about 1597–1660

    Dimensions

    29.9 x 35.9 cm (11 3/4 x 14 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    13.459

    Collections
    Europe
    On View
    Remis Gallery (European Art 1600-1800) - 244 More Info

    Description


    Multimedia

  • A Chinese Port

    Slide Notes

    Looking Questions:
    1. What effect do the gold clouds have on the atmosphere?
    2. What are the goods that the ships are bringing into port? Where do you think they came from, and who do you think is buying these goods?

    Read the "Assorted Quatrains on Japan" by Huang Zunxian, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. The first quatrain has many parallels with the painting. What are they? Can you see any parallels with the second quatrain? Do you see any inconsistencies?
    2. The poet alludes to wealth in his quatraints: where do you see evidence of mansions or luxury in this painting? Why do you think a port town would be luxurious?

    Details

    A Chinese Port

    first half of the 17th century

    Artist Unknown, Japanese

    Dimensions

    154.5 x 346 cm (60 13/16 x 136 1/4 in.) (height x width)

    Medium

    One of a pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    11.4168

    Collections
    Asia More Info

    Description

    Multimedia

  • Martyrdom of Saint Hippolytus

    Slide Notes

    Looking Questions:
    1. What is the visual focus of the painting? What visual elements does the artist use to draw attention to that focus?
    2. How does the artist depict the figure of the martyr Saint Hippolytus? The painting illustrates a very gruesome scene--does the artist emphasize or downplay this element of violence? Why?

    Read the poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley, available in the PDF file of accompanying poems under Related Resources.

    Look again:
    1. Do you think the mindset expressed in Henley's poem would be similar to what Saint Hippolytus is experiencing in the painting? Why or why not?
    2. How do the painter and the poet each address the violence of their subject? Is one more powerful or muted than the other?

    Details

    Martyrdom of Saint Hippolytus

    Fourth quarter of the 15th century

    Unidentified Artist, Flemish, 15th century

    Dimensions

    Overall (Center Panel, unframed): 87.6 x 133.7 cm (34 1/2 x 52 5/8 in.) Other (Right wing, unframed): 87.6 x 59.7 cm (34 1/2 x 23 1/2 in.) Other (Left wing, unframed): 87.6 x 59.7cm (34 1/2 x 23 1/2in.)

    Medium

    Tempera and oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    63.660

    Collections
    Europe
    On View
    Coolidge Gallery (South. Europ. 1400-1600) - 243A More Info

    Description

    Multimedia