As art museums go, the Fogg Art Museum, which is located on the campus of Harvard University has a pretty good reputation. For a fine art institution that is run by a major university, the collection is quite astounding. The vast array of Late Gothic, Renaissance and modern paintings is more like something one would find at a large municipal private museum instead of a small liberal arts college.
The building that houses the art museum is located on Quincy street, which runs right through the Harvard campus on the south end of Harvard Yard. Enter the large brick structure that also holds the Busch-Reisinger Museum and after purchasing a nine-dollar ticket that is good for four museums; you will enter a stately courtyard that is the centerpiece of the museum.
From this large open space that extends upward for several stories, you can walk through the first floor galleries, which shows mostly grand masters from “Old Europe”. The highlights from this time period are four works by Rubens and a Rembrandt painting, which are housed in a room devoted to Dutch painting. As one continues through the first floor, they will find more art chambers that feature classical European masters from Germany, France and Italy. There is also a bookstore at the edge of the courtyard and one gallery that puts of changing shows with contemporary themes.
Climb the stairs to the second floor where the collection from “Old Europe” is mixed in with modern artists from both sides of the Atlantic. Here, there is a wonderful balcony that surrounds the courtyard. Along the interior wall of the balcony is a fabulous collection of art that includes a grand view of Venice by Canoletto, as well as scores of nineteenth century American masters, such as Homer, Singer, Church, Bierstadt and Harnett. There are still a few galleries devoted to Renaissance art on the second floor, but the real treat here are the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and the twentieth century modernists. There is even a first-rate Picasso painting from his blue period.
The Wortheim collection of impressionist and post- impressionists is what really makes this museum shine. There is a whole room that includes paintings by Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Seurat, and Gaugin, along with some of the cubists such as Picasso and Braque. Not only are all the big names present, but also each artist is represented by at least one major work, which helps to define the careers of these notable painters and sculptors.
After the Wortheim room, visitors will enter two more excellent chambers of twentieth century art. The first room is a continuation of the Impressionists with some fine samples from such American masters as Georgia O’Keefe, Marsden Hartley, Man Ray and Arthur Dove added.
Finally, there is one more chamber dedicated to he modernists, but this time, large canvases by mid-century painters such as Jackson Pollock, Juan Miro and Franz Kline dominate the gallery. These spacious paintings create an intriguing departure from the earlier modern paintings and they make a nice topping to the eclectic experience that awaits visitors to the Fogg Museum.
All in all the Fogg Museum is well worth a visit, especially for those who wish to gain a more general knowledge on a broad array of artistic styles that covers many centuries and several continents.