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Collections and Critiques

By R. T. Browne

Boston's art, unlike its music, is not widely publicized, and an outline of the considerable felicities of local museums and galleries should prove helpful to the many newly arrived in the city. Cambridge's Fogg Museum is, itself, an unvalued jewel to many. The museum maintains a permanent collection of remarkable worth, particularly in Italian primitives, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century French painting, oriental art, English watercolors, and prints. It has frequent loan exhibits, a distinguished example being the Maurice Wertheim collection of post-impressionists and modern French painting shown this summer. At present Fogg is displaying its own fine collection of old master drawings.

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, despite its plethora of Copley, Gilbert Stuart, and Boston's favorite John Singer Sargent, is second only to the Metropolitan and the National Gallery among American museums. Its greatest prize is its collection of Chinese art, the largest and finest in the Occident, and its Japanese, Persian, and Indian collections are scarcely less impressive. The museum is also distinguished for Egyptian, Classical, and Gothic works, and for European painting, particularly Italian primitives, Turner and Blake watercolors, and French impressionists.

Fenway Court contains Isabella Stewart Gardner's vast, ill-assorted art collection. Included among much of little or no value, are some of the finest Italian paintings in the country including a Simone Martini polytych, a small Giorgione, and Titian's "Rape of Europa." French and German portraits, Flemish tapestries, and oriental works are also discernible, and delightful, among the litter of Sargents, Sorollas, and Zorns.

Modern art, while less grandly displayed, has an active and enterprising local representation. The Institute of Modern Art, a non-profit organization, with galleries on Newbury Street, maintains no permanent collection but has frequent showings of distinguished contemporary painting. It is, at present, holding its Tenth Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition, including major works by Picasso, Matisse, Roualt, Henri Rousseau, Klee, Marin, and Siqueiros. Boris Mirski's Gallery, also on Newbury Street, shows mainly Mexican and Boston moderns. The current show comprises paintings by pupils and admirers of Karl Zerbe, the celebrated and versatile Boston romantic. Mirski's also sells original paintings and prints by local artists, and maintains a large collection of Persian and Indian miniatures.

The Stuart Art Gallery also carries an extensive stock of originals and prints and does considerable framing work. Their exhibition this month is the series of paintings of the "Temptation of Saint Anthony," which Mayor Curley recently condemned as offensive to religious persons. The show contains some interesting interpretations by such painters as Abraham Rattner, Salvador Dali, Ivan Albright, and Dorothea Tanning; but only Max Ernst's prize-winning canvas captures the terror brought to the theme by the Gothic Masters.

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