Virtually explore the MFA in Boston with Smarthistory as your guide
videos + essays
The audience hall in the palace in Benin City communicated to visiting ambassadors, traders, courtiers, and subjects the power and wealth of the Oba, or king.
These reliquary figures helped a nomadic society to honor their loved ones after death.
How to impress your courtiers: a lesson from the Kingdom of Benin
In this example of ukiyo-e, the artist represents a modern woman in the guise of Komachi, a legendary poetess.
Female painters were rare in sixteenth-century Italy. In self-portraits, Sofonisba made sure to appear virtuous.
Complete mayhem! The violent scenes of this remarkable handscroll meld grisly horror with morbid humor.
Well known in his own day as a silversmith, Revere is shown in casual attire, with a teapot brimming with meaning.
A beautiful sunset, but look closer. One of humanity’s most hideous acts—seen in the waves of the indifferent sea.
“Luminism” sounds like a subject at Hogwarts, but it actually describes landscape paintings like this one.
Rosso plays fast and loose with tradition, manipulating Christ’s body and transcending High Renaissance strictures.
The subject looks through opera glasses, but she herself is the object of another man’s gaze—not to mention ours.
Adam and Eve have just been evicted from Paradise, and the grass was definitely greener on the other side.