Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University: Five Favorites

The Fogg Museum at Harvard University opened in 1895 in a Renaissance-style  building designed by Richard Morris Hunt, whose Metropolitan Museum Wing D (facing Fifth Avenue) was completed within the same decade. That building has been replaced with one in Georgian Revival. The Fogg has strong holdings in Western art from the Middle Ages to the present, particularly Italian Renaissance, Pre-Raphaelite, and French 19th-century.

The Fogg’s website is unimpressive: many of the artworks are shown in black and white only, and those in color have very low-res photos. Sometimes even the most basic information on the artist and subject are lacking. Full disclosure: I haven’t (yet) visited the Fogg. I found works below in Edgard Peters Bowron’s European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum.

Abigail Bromfield Rogers by John Singleton Copley, 1784

This one is my absolute favorite among works at the Fogg. Abigael/Abigail Bromfield Rogers (Mrs. Daniel Denison Rogers, 1753-1791) was Copley’s step-niece. The Founders Archive has a charming letter to her from Abigail Adams, who’s complaining that she’s been left all by her lonesome in New York in September 1790, when most of the government had moved to Philadelphia. (Per the Residence Act: “Wouldn’t you like to work a little closer to home?”)

John Singleton Copley,
Abigail Bromfield Rogers, 1784. Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. Image: Wikipedia

Self-Portrait with an Easel, by Nicolas Régnier, ca. 1620-1625

Nicolas Régnier, Self-Potrait with an Easel, ca. 1620-1625. Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. Image: Fogg Art Museum

This one caught my eye because I assumed the “self-portrait” in the title meant he was painting a portrait of himself – and I wondered what he was trying to say by making himself look so very different in the painting on the easel. But in fact, it’s a self-portrait Régnier painting a portrait of someone else, possibly Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani, patron of Régnier and former patron of Caravaggio. (Hmm, there’s a comment I need to change in that post, after working through the current draft of Innovators in Painting …)

Self-Portrait by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1859

Ingres, Self-Portrait, 1859. Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. Image: Fogg Art Museum

This is another not-so-good image from the Fogg’s website. If you like details (Ingres certainly did!) you might want to look instead at the similar, higher-resolution self-portrait from 1864 at the Uffizi.

This is how Ingres (1780-1867) actually looked at about this time. Although he painted with extreme detail, he did not believe a painting should attempt to reproduce reality the way a photograph did.

Photo of Ingres ca. 1860-1867. Wikipedia

The Fogg Museum’s page states that this is the only self-portrait by Ingres, ignoring the one from 1804 at the Musée Condé in Chantilly (reworked later). Tut, tut.

In the Sierras / Lake Tahoe by Albert Bierstadt, 1868

Does Lake Tahoe still look this beautiful?

Albert Bierstadt, In the Sierras / Lake Tahoe, 1868. Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. Image: Wikipedia

Gare Saint-Lazare, Arrival of a Train, by Claude Monet, 1877

Claude Monet, Gare Saint-Lazare, Arrival of a Train, 1877. Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. Image: Smarthistory.org

I like paintings of industrial subjects – and there aren’t many of them, especially in the mid- to late nineteenth century. The Gare Saint-Lazare railroad terminal is today the second busiest in Paris. Monet did a dozen paintings of the station, three of which are at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris: see this article. The Fogg’s page on this painting, with a much crappier photo, is here.

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About Dianne L. Durante

I constantly seek out art that's inspiring, thought-provoking, skillfully executed, and/or beautiful so I can share it (in jargon-free language) with others who need and enjoy such art, but don't have time to search for it themselves. As an independent scholar, writer, and lecturer, I focus on art history and history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are three volumes on Alexander Hamilton, Central Park: The Early Years, Innovators in Sculpture (a survey of 5,000 years of art in 2 hours), and videoguide apps by Guides Who Know. Click on the Books & Essays tab for a list of all books. For upcoming projects, see my Patreon page.

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