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With Éclat

The Boston Athenæum and the Origin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Hina Hirayama

Publication Year: 2013

A detailed history of the Boston Athenæum’s historic role in the founding of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston The Boston Athenæum played a vital role in founding the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a fact that is not widely known. This book details this important relationship, from its inception through the museum’s early years when the Athenæum’s continued support ensured the young institution’s survival. This historic partnership was remarkable in its intensity, intimacy, and informality, yet its details have never been fully documented. Based on extensive new research, With Éclat chronicles the joint endeavor in greater detail than ever before and places it in the context of Boston’s changing cultural landscape. This extraordinary story will appeal to those who know these wonderful institutions or are interested in the history of American museums.

Published by: University Press of New England

Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 4-5

Contents

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pp. 5-7

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 7-8

During the many years I have been working on this book, I have incurred numerous debts of gratitude to those who have made its creation possible. At the Boston Athenæum, David B. Dearinger, Susan Morse Hilles Curator of Paintings and Sculpture, has been...

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Introduction

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pp. 11-15

The new building of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), was expected to open in the city’s Back Bay in the summer of 1876, six years after the incorporation of the institution. Less than a year before, in the autumn of 1875, the trustees of the Boston Athenæum searched...

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1. The Fine Arts at the Boston Athenæum, 1807–1870

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pp. 17-49

For more than two centuries, the Boston Athenæum has been a protean sum of its changing parts. In Greek antiquity, an athenaeum was a temple dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, a public place where scholars in various fields taught their students, and orators...

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2. Toward 1870: The Perkins Brothers, the Athenæum Gallery, and Changing Taste in Boston

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pp. 51-76

By 1870 Boston was a metropolis far different from the small town it had been at the beginning of the century. The city’s population grew tenfold in the intervening seventy years, from 25,000 in 1800 to 250,000 in 1870, and the relative homogeneity that had existed...

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3. The Founding Vision for the Museum, 1870

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pp. 77-95

On march 10, 1870, one month after the state legislature passed the act of incorporation for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the new institution’s founding trustees gathered “for the purpose of considering whether they [would] accept the Act of incorporation granted...

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4. The Athenæum and the Museum, 1870–1876

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pp. 97-135

On January 17, 1870, more than two weeks before the Museum of Fine Arts was incorporated, the Athenæum trustees formally offered the use of its third-floor gallery for “an art loan exhibition . . . to forward the movement in favor of the proposed Museum of the...

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5. After 1876: Changing Directions

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pp. 137-158

In July 1876 the Museum of Fine Arts finally proclaimed its physical presence with its richly polychrome building in the Back Bay. By late November the trustees no longer felt it necessary to place regular advertisements in the city’s newspapers, satisfied that...

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Epilogue

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pp. 159-162

In total, the Boston Athenæum deposited more than twelve hundred items at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.¹ This sizable loan clearly expressed the Athenæum’s desire to help the young museum; this desire also prompted the Athenæum...

Appendix: The Incorporators of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1870

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pp. 163-174

Notes

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pp. 175-210

Bibliography

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pp. 211-226

Index

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pp. 227-235


E-ISBN-13: 9780934552837
E-ISBN-10: 0934552835
Print-ISBN-13: 9780934552820
Print-ISBN-10: 0934552827

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 81 illus. (39 color)
Publication Year: 2013