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Park and Tremont Streets by Louis Novak | © MFA
Park and Tremont Streets by Louis Novak | © MFA
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The Museum Of Fine Arts: Boston In 7 Iconic Artworks

Picture of Casey Campbell
Updated: 25 August 2016
Boston is home to a number of fascinating museums, yet The Museum of Fine Arts is probably the most famous one. School groups visit regularly, tourists make it a destination, and it’s the epicenter of art and culture for the city. It makes sense, then, that the MFA is home to some of the most iconic portrayals of Boston. These seven works capture the heart of the city, and if the viewer looks close enough, they uncover the history, culture, and daily life of Bostonians.

Paul Revere – John Singleton Copley

Paul Revere is as symbolic as the Revolutionary War itself and a historical hero in Boston. Copley’s portrayal of him may be the most famous, featuring a teapot that Revere crafted himself. John Singleton Copley was most likely born in Boston in 1738. Many of his works feature important revolutionaries throughout colonial New England, and visitors can see over 100 of his works at the MFA.

Paul Revere | ©Mark Skrobola/Flickr
Paul Revere by John Singleton Copley | ©Mark Skrobola/Flickr

Sons of Liberty Bowl – Paul Revere

According to the MFA, the Sons of Liberty Bowl has been called one of the nation’s most treasured historical artifacts, next to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It honors 92 representatives who protested the Townshend Acts of 1767, which taxed tea, paper, glass, and other commodities imported from England. It’s also part of the extensive collection of silver pieces crafted by Paul Revere.

The Sons of Liberty Bowl at the MFA| ©BostonHistoryGuy/Flickr
The Sons of Liberty Bowl crafted by Paul Revere | ©BostonHistoryGuy/Flickr
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At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight) – Childe Hassam

Artist and Dorchester native Childe Hassam portrayed the Boston Common in the 1880s. The Common is the oldest public park in the United States and had only been transformed into the scene below a few decades beforehand. Prior to the 1850s, the Common served as an open field for cattle grazing and military parades. Hassam’s impressionist paintings are most notably urban and coastal scenes of the Americas, and over his lifetime, he produced over 3,000 works.

Tremont Street, Boston – Philip Harry

Estimated to be painted around 1843, Philip Harry’s Tremont Street, Boston depicts one of the busiest streets in the city. Today, it connects multiple neighborhoods of the city, running from Government Center to the South End. Historic maps of Boston date the origins of Tremont Street back to at least 1775, and it is still a well-known landmark in the city. Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, Philip Harry painted a number of scenes and landscapes of his hometown and throughout New England.

Tremont Street|©Museum of Fine Arts/Wikimedia
Tremont Street by Philip Harry | ©Museum of Fine Arts/Wikimedia

Boston Harbor – Fitz Henry Lane

This tranquil scene by Fitz Henry Lane provides a snapshot of what is still a bustling harbor. The Gloucester native painted Boston Harbor from a hill in East Boston, a view today that showcases the iconic skyscrapers of Boston. It’s evident through his works that living on the ocean greatly influenced him, and he is known for the incredible amount of detail in each of his works.

Boston Harbor|©MFA/Wikimedia
Boston Harbor by Fitz Henry Lane | ©MFA/Wikimedia

A prospective view of the town of Boston – Nathaniel Dearborn

Serving as the start to three generations of engravers, Nathaniel Dearborn carved this scene based on a design by Paul Revere, whose name appears at the bottom. The city sits in the background as eight British warships sit in Boston Harbor. The work was done in 1770, in the early beginnings of the Revolutionary War.

undefined More details A prospective view of the town of Boston | ©MFA
A prospective view of the town of Boston | ©MFA

Park and Tremont Streets – Louis Novak

Painter Louis Novak completed this work in 1942, and the scene is fairly similar to what still exists today. The station entrances pictured were erected in 1897, making Park Street one of the oldest subway stations not only in Boston but also the country. Also featured is the Park Street Church, a 200-year-old landmark of Downtown Boston. Finally, Novak features the Parker House Hotel, before its name change, the birthplace of the much-loved Boston Creme Pie.

Park and Tremont Streets by Louis Novak
Park and Tremont Streets by Louis Novak | ©MFA