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Oh. Oh yeah yeah. You. I don't want anyone to be unnecessarily rude.
Most of the animals here are exceptionally well trained. We have a few that have been known to snarl if you're jostle their pedestals. And we have an elephant who has been rather sullen and withdrawn since all those those jokes that were going around but generally we're all one very happy family. As a matter of fact a little too happy we've been trying to plan a very serious program about animals in our care. But I keep encountering characters like this and the problem is how to keep a straight face while being hypocritical about hippo pottery. He's obviously embarrassed about having his portrait down there he was 2000 years before Christ hanging around the shore of the Nile and I suppose a few of the boys said let's go into Memphis and get tattooed and it seemed like a good idea at the time. His pottery image in the fine earthenware call was probably placed in a burial chamber so that he would add this
ponderous presence to the next life of his deceased master. And here we may have the original Mother Goose. She goes back to Greece of the fifth century before Christ. And I think she's absolutely beautiful. We have to realize that the goose was really a family pet almost like a dog when she'd been sitting modestly all these years while the admiration of the world was lavished on the great heroic models of Greece's Golden Age very justly but we could see her a little better now in the quality of the unpretentious skillet that formed her with such affection. She is very simple but she's embodying an idea about motherhood that is very simple. This fox was made in the 4th century B.C. about that time Aesop's fables were already a couple
hundred years old around the time that this was made. Plato was advancing the idea that animals were produced by the new generation of man is so trends migrating into a lower bodily forms. And he wrote only half jokingly that men who had lived badly were suitably reborn as women in the second generation wild beasts who go on all for this came from men who were holy. I'm conversant with philosophy. I don't know. Therefore I am I think it's both the philosophy of the artist who portrayed him had a fine eye for an affected animal Grace. We see how he's kept that long supple curve and then below it received a rhythm of form moving across from the tapered muzzle to the knee to the larger curve of the haunch and then that great sweep of the tail. Wonderful
perception of a very unnatural scene the IBEX was written about by Pliny. He said the IBEX and animal of wonderful swiftness although its head is loaded with immense horns which bear a strong resemblance to the sheath of a sword. Winnie Of course the Roman naturalists like the Futurist writer. This is in bronze from Persia about the 5th century B.C. That would place him in the triumphant communion period of the Persian Empire perhaps under Darius was there a time when the great city of Persepolis was being built. Their art was full of animals animal forms abstracted and decorative entered so much into the ornaments of bronze and gold found all the way from East Western Europe to China. In these.
Last centuries before Christ that it has become known as the the animal style. There is much elegance and power in this. Fragment with its incised geometric treatment of the eyebrows giving it a. Faintly human expression and beneath. There is a really ingenious solution to the question of. Bending his leg legs beneath him. Animals have long been considered in many cultures that having magic power and it was often the fancy of artist to multiply that power by inventing fantastic creatures hybrid creatures like the Gryphon was a fabulous monster usually has the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. Here we have only the head. This is the earlier Greek guard around the seventh century commonly called of that period of Oriental influence. Direct trade been
established with the great empires of the east and fantasies like the Gryphon can ultimately be traced back to a Syrian Army that used to decorate a large bronze cauldron. It was probably considered the guardian of its contents. I suppose to discovered poisoning theft and midnight snacks. This is one of my favorites in the department of fantastic animals and charges in like a leopard and goes out like a sheep he has a sheep head on his tail there. Those are a few people who come and go that way. It's a prehistoric gold ornament from Costa Rica or Panama probably from the grave of an Indian chief. It's an amulet was one superstition superstitiously to ward off evil. There's some odd implement in its mouth maybe a rake. We don't know its significance but
it has tremendous vitality. Life was no no primitive where it was not the product of a of a primitive culture it probably derived from the advanced and all pervading civilization of the Maya that you could turn. Just metal ball inside. And your guess is as good as mine. I'm a little nervous about that joking about our next subject because there are still some very fanatical worshippers around and they might lay a curse on us if we were disrespectful. Nobody knows how the Egyptians got started on worshipping cats. They appear in Egyptian art first as wild animals then as domestic creatures depicted in art found in tombs. Gradually there evolved the cult of the cat.
Early evidence suggests it was first a male associated with the sun but it reached its greatest popularity as a female deity there is no record of the kind of ritual in which it was involved but there were probably processions litanies invocations. General singing and carrying on that's not too difficult to see how the need to embody divine purpose in a living creature would focus on a cat with a great quality of aloofness and their air of secret omniscience and even members of the canine cult will admit that they are occasionally beautiful. The sculptor who made this and some temple workshop in the early Ptolemaic period around 300 B.C. was following a long established conventions of tents and sinew was suppose long ears back for listening. The peoples of the eyes were sometimes engraved as here and sometimes they were sparkling with gold or jewels.
CATS IN REAL LIFE don't really care where their tail goes but in this Egyptian sculpture is always on the right side. She gradually came to usurp the character of the Goddess Bess stepped it was traditionally shown with a lion head and. Then. The cat's head begins to. Appear. The limestone relief. Around the same time she looks so blindly regal as though she's plotting an invasion of the Canary Islands. So probably model of work the artist charging with intense feeling what might have been a dry catalogue of conventions that year made without a load but with a normal mental curved bridge for part of the ear shaped like that the feather which was symbolic of truth or right. And the Eye directed more to the to the front. Now you know this is a period under Greek influence and it's more naturalistic as a tear duct and the upper
lid is carefully drawn over the lower as well combed whiskers and that professionally inscrutable smile. Since Plato and declare that animals had no talent for philosophy and the Egyptians had shown their power to mystify the way was obviously clear for animals to enter politics. This is a sort of colonial art. The donkey interesting lion cubs made by some Roman artist in Tunisia about the fourth or fifth century A.D.. It's a mosaic made by drawing a cartoon on the wall covering section by section with. Cement with some other material into which were imbedded small cubes of colored stone or marble or glass called tesseract. This is a parody of the familiar scene of the She wolf suckling Romulus and Remus but the animals are taken from classic mythology and have suggested to some that this
is really an obscure piece of pagan propaganda against the rising tide of Christianity. Sometimes an artist wants to make just one animal. But. He comes up instead with to this. I'm sure I want to be a lion when I grow up. But in North Germany of the 12th century there are more dogs around than lions for an artist to study and he just turned out this way. There's a hole in the back or a candlestick he has a nice maniacal grin all strongly stylized with that taste for the grotesque through which medieval artists often channeled emotions inexpressible and traditional artist's themes.
And whenever I'm told or read something. About something in arc that is supposed to represent the forces of both good and evil. I don't find it very helpful but it really is true in the case of the Dragon in Chinese art. It does represent the forces of both good and evil. This bronze was made in eighth century China in the middle of the Tung dynasty. He was an imperial symbol believed by many to be a close relative of the Emperor and responsible for the behavior of wind rain and water in the broader sense of the Taoist philosophy he's a symbol of the central energy which produces and sustains the universe. The greatest dragon painting that still exists is in the collection of this museum the famous Nine Dragons scroll painted by in the 13th century. We like to show you some of it with the words of the first curator of the Asiatic
department here. OKOK Iraq was all. We associate him with the supreme power. Or that's suffering cause which pervades everything. Taking new forms according to its surroundings yet never seen in final shape the Dragon is the great mystery itself. Hidden in the caverns of inaccessible mountains or coiled in the on Fathom depths of the sea. He waits the time when he slowly arouses himself. To activity. Young foals himself in the storm clouds he washes his mane in the blackness of seeding whirlpools. His claws are in the forks of the lightning. The scales begin to glisten in the bark of rain swept pine trees. His voice is heard in the hurricane which scattering the withered leaves of the forest quickens the new spring.
Some monkeys with attitudes quizzical do tricks that are very and she was a go. They swing from a tree while staring at me thinking he'd never pass the physical. The 15th century Japanese artist so sure was trained to be a Zen Buddhist priest as a painter he found that his vision on the earlier triumphs of Chinese Song Dynasty painting as if he could see it in Japanese collections. And usually painted in the highly disciplined style of the Northern tradition but here in this delightful screen he pays tribute to the work of a 13th century Chinese Chun priest whose strokes are a softer and wetter as though we hope to summon the scene from the paper of the silk rather than impose a painting upon it. From the mystic complexities of. Of. Chan. Or Zen Buddhism.
There are these words which describe the mental condition in which. Artists like so shoe and she prefer to work. In a state in which knowledge and truth become un differentiable objects in spirit form a single unity and there ceases to be a distinction between the experiencer and the experience. The influence of muchi also lingers benevolently over this tiger painted by the 16th century Japanese artist Hochul. Anatomical accuracy is not his goal if it were he would have had to emigrate as there were no tigers in Japan. That from China the Tigers into deeply into the mythology and folklore of Japan. He's the symbol of the third year of the Oriental Zodiac. The tiger was often painted on screens before the gates of magistrates to produce in all who approach a feeling of awe and terror. And on the gates of the
homes and temples as a symbol of bravery. Maybe because dealing with a tiger is a risky business he became the symbol of a risky business gambling halls used to be decorated with his picture holding money in his front paws and incense was burned in front of it every twelfth day was Tiger day which you had to watch out for what was auspicious and what wasn't. And in case anyone is interested in the Tiger our of every 24 hours is from 3:00 to 5:00 a.m.. One of the best loved members of the museum's it was this white fox painted by people in the 18th century. He stands alone in the great void of silk a white fox in a gray mist. The scene with more sympathy and affection than he usually receives in the West where we know he's sly crafty cunning and doesn't hunt like a gentleman. Several stories were told in Japan about foxes which. Were saved from death through the kindness of men and show their gratitude
by assuming the shape of beautiful girls and marrying their benefactors. Japanese with US foreign made just one successful play on that theme not realizing its great potential for a television series called I married a fox. Nasty cavity you have there. Those of us brought up in the Victor Mature tradition may have trouble recognizing Sampson struggling with a lion. As you all know Sampson went down to the vineyards of Tim that with his father and mother to court a daughter of the Philistines and a lion set upon them and Sampson then set upon him and rend him. There's a story you did it so well that he started a rental Alliance service but no one would hire him with that funny long here. It's a 13 century bronze from Saxony or Lorraine very beautifully made
widely recognised as a rare example of its kind this golden Aqua neatly derived from the Latin words for water and for Hans. And it was just that a container used for pouring water over the hands to wash them. They were made in fanciful shapes most frequently animal shapes real and imaginary sometimes with riders and could generally be picked up by some part of the animal's body. Here it's by the tail animal forms were important in all forms of medieval decoration and minor arts. These women nearly also had Oriental ancestors in Persian and Islamic bronzes. There's no way to tell whether this was made for ecclesiastical or domestic purposes they were used for both. A priest would use it to wash his hands in the sacristy before mass. At home it would be used to table between courses as well as at the end of the meal. Since forks and finger bowls had not yet been introduced.
My favorite description of our next unforgettable subject is taken from a medieval view as rendered by Richard Randall in a delightful book called the cloister is best published by the Metropolitan Museum. The elephant is biggest of all the beasts. He is as big as a mountain. He's an odd looking creature with a very long nose like a snake which is called a trunk. With this he eats all the leaves off his favorite bushes. Elephants only conceive once in their lives and they then bring forth only one baby. This is strange as they live to be three hundred years old. The elephant is faithful to his wife and is by nature very gentle. If a man is lost in the forest he will lead him back to the paths of the world because he likes the companionship of his fellows the elephant travels in herds. If one is angered however he can become fierce and cooperate trees with his trunk and crush buildings beneath
his feet. He fears the unicorn who can wound him in the belly and even more so the tiny mouse. A rhinoceros is a large ungainly thick skinned parasol dactyl mammal. There are five species still extent but they don't include this one invented by the great German artist when he made this word got in 15 15. The rhinoceros had been brought to Portugal from Africa in the spring of that year. Pictures and descriptions of it reached Germany rather quickly enduro then painted of the Emperor Maximillian turned to the task of bringing this splendid discovery to the attention of the German people. The rhinoceros doesn't need much inventiveness on the part of the artist to be fascinating but it was moved to great heights of imagination covering him with what seems to be a richly patterned suit of armor and fantastic shapes textured with scales and shells. He seems understandably unhappy at
being reconstructed without attention to the directions. In an earlier less decorative style the famous engraving of St. Eustace Dura shows what he can do when he's treating animals that he has seen. The subject of this work is supposed to be the legend of St. Eustace the Roman soldier of noble birth who set out for a hunt. And like Saint Hubert encountered a stag bearing the crucifix between his antlers and addressing his pursuer in the name of Christ moved by this miracle St. Eustace became a Christian and died for his faith. It is also the story of a young artist intensely pursuing three goals he had set himself having observed them in Italian artists command of human proportions. The command of animal proportions especially horses and instead of castles in the air the ability through perspective to make them stand on the ground in the distance. But the animals that steal the show hear the stag the horse and those two dogs. They are
all presented in profile as is in a scientific handbook. Their texture and this week unfold of bone and muscle superbly rendered with lines that follow the largest curve of the form and bend in and out by skilful cross-hatching is characterizations of the dog's is sharp nose in the acute as his. Subjects themselves. No matter how it sounds. Giovanni de Bologna was a French sculptor of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century who worked in Bologna and then in Florence. Where he competed with men of a new coach Illini for the patronage of the miniature. He's usually called a man or ist that the period after the high renaissance characterized by artists who do inject their work with new psychological tensions often by elongating the form frequently giving new drama to their work by exaggerated poses and gestures. It's called charging Bowe. And perhaps
aficionados of bullfights know better if that's what he's up to. Man a wrist artist like to establish a strong direction for a figure and then give it a violent twist. The action ripples through the body there are many tensions and directions as the muscles stretch across the bone and set themselves for the final charge. We may have been a little tactless in the way we've placed these two in proximity. It would take an extremely disciplined tight will to resist the beguiling charms of this little enchantress. She's from Delft around 1775 and she could start a revolution on the farm with that. Decorative flower display. I know she's a triumph of the of the Potter's art and all that but. I am. So moved by her. Magnificence that I. Am rarely speechless.
We bring you now an intimate behind the scenes glimpse of the king of beasts. Some of you may not know that a lion has his feelings like everybody else and breaks down once in a while. This is the lion who cries by a ghost Rodin. It's a plaster model for a bronze was made in 1881 Rodin had strong feelings about people who talked about art. So I think it fitting to defer to his own words. Each profile is actually. The outer evidence of the interior Mass each is the perceptible surface of a deep section like the slices of a melon so that if one is faithful to the accuracy of these profiles the reality of the model instead of being a superficial reproduction seems to emanate from within the solidity of the whole the accuracy of plan and the veritable life of a work of art proceeds therefrom.
You may notice in the dock there are rather more relaxed lion snoozing peacefully while his mate stands guard by the 18th century English painter George Stubbs is better known for his admirable paintings of horses as a young man visiting Italy he saw a lion devouring a horse. You never get over it it was one of his favorite subjects this is quite a romantic painting for for him with that marvelous tree clutching conversely into the dock. And that expression of the face of the lion it seems to be acquired from years of patient wifely concern. She may have heard that Meineke was having some trouble in Europe. That may be the artist himself standing in the shadow. Good stuff Kobe. Me against the tree in this painting called the quarry. He liked to paint himself very much he was a great hunter as well as a great
painter. And by his own admission an incorrigible poacher. This. Hunting scene was originally bought by the Allston club the group of young Boston artists. One of the two important paintings sold in his lifetime and the first one in America. He's painted the dead black with a sympathy with age. Perhaps it would take another hunter to do understand the realistic skill of Corbett a rendering the just texture the tone the light sometimes obscure as his gift for evoking a mood of nature. The way he's distributed the the shaft of light of the forest with great subtlety highlighting the quarry the boy with the horn in these magnificent dogs still. Tense with the chase. After the sale Kobe said what care I for the Salang what care I for honors when they are students of a new and great country know and appreciate and buy my works.
Museum Open House
Animal Spirits
Episode Number
Museum Open House: Animal Spirits
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Episode Description
Program hosted by Russell Connor of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Each half hour program was devoted to a period of artists and showed works of art with Connor giving the background on the works. In this episode, Connor showcases art with a focus on animals and animal spirits. The majority of the art featured are statues with animals subjects ranging from the Hippo to the Fox. Connor also shares some Japanese art including The Nine Dragon Scroll painted by Ch'en Jung and a Tiger screen painted by Hasegawa T?haku. He closes with a painting by Gustave Courbet.
Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art & Arts; sculpture; Connor, Russell; PAINTING; Courbet, Gustave, 1819-1877; Hasegawa, Tohaku, 1539-1610; Nine Dragons; Jung, Ch'en; Rong, Chen; Art, French; Art, Japanese; animals
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Moving Image
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Assistant Producer2: Husbands, Nancy
Associate Producer2: Kennedy, Thalia
Director: Cosel, William
Host2: Connor, Russell
Other (see note): Kane, Pat
Other (see note): Anderson, Ken
Other (see note): Rogers, Steve
Producer2: Barnard, Patricia
Publisher: Presented by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the WGBH Educational Foundation
Sound2: Ferguson, Andrew
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 118c77bcd7459c9a046a850a3536a2665a257a52 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
Format: video/quicktime
Color: B&W
Duration: 00:00:00
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Chicago: “Museum Open House; Animal Spirits; 62; Museum Open House: Animal Spirits,” 1966-03-28, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 30, 2023,
MLA: “Museum Open House; Animal Spirits; 62; Museum Open House: Animal Spirits.” 1966-03-28. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 30, 2023. <>.
APA: Museum Open House; Animal Spirits; 62; Museum Open House: Animal Spirits. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from