15 October 2018
Museum Monday 2018/42
Many years ago, when I lived in Boston, this twelfth-century statue of Mary and the infant Jesus from Lombardy, by an unidentified artist, was one of my favorite objects in the Museum of Fine Arts, and I'll admit that it's partly because when I first saw it my immediate thought was that Mary looked a little homelier than usual – and then I saw the look of love between the two, the trusting love on the child's face and the sorrowing love on the mother's, and it just pierced my heart (especially as I contrasted my initial shallow reaction with the emotional depths of these limestone figures), and after that I always went to visit this statue when I went to the Museum, which was pretty often. When I went back to Boston for a visit in June of 2017, after a very long absence, I headed straight to the MFA and was very disappointed not to find my statue in the medieval galleries, where it had always been. Eventually I found it again in an unexpected gallery, in a special exhibit dedicated to a particular curator, whose name I unfortunately did not write down. The theme of the small show was objects he had acquired and his interest in the body, which is why the background here is Oskar Kokoschka's Two Nudes (Lovers), a portrait of himself with Alma Mahler. I liked the juxtaposition of my statue with the different kind of love (one that also has sorrow in it) passing between Oskar and Alma.