Frame by Frame

Sebastian Smee, unearthing hidden treasures in the collections of New England museums.

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Thinking pig in Providence

A 2,000-year-old sculpture at the RISD Museum is as much about home as animal.

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Deadlier than the male

Peter Paul Rubens’s “Head of Cyrus Brought to Queen Tomyris” is bloody good.

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Dancing women, waves, and the joys of Winslow Homer’s ‘Summer Night’

Painted in Prouts Neck, Maine, the work is on view at Harvard Art Museums.

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At deCordova, a watchful sculpture stands the test of time

Seeing Ursula von Rydingsvard’s “ence pence” at the museum, especially against an incandescent backdrop of fall leaves, it’s hard not to be moved.

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Face to face with ‘The Old Man and Death’

Joseph Wright of Derby’s painting has lessons to offer at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.

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Illustrating the shock of recognition

A 15th-century Persian manuscript page at Harvard shows just how to do it.

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Staring him right in the face

The sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt took rendering facial expressions to a whole new level.

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Behind the window, beneath the hat

Sebastian Smee singles out Lois Dodd’s self-portrait, from the Portland Museum of Art.

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Tiger, tiger, burning bright

Antoine-Louis Barye’s sculpture “Tiger Attacking a Peacock” is a standout at the Harvard Art Museums.

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In a world aflame with yearning

The young Edvard Munch puts his dreams on canvas.

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‘Negro Soldier’: a haunting portrait worthy of salute

Sebastian Smee looks at Robert Smullyan Sloan’s work at Harvard Art Museums.

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When a man loves a woman — and he doesn’t stand a chance

Sebastian Smee takes a look at Jacob Jordaens’s painting “Portrait of a Young Married Couple.”

Sebastian Smee | Frame by Frame

Meaning and nothingness in ‘Study of a Cloudy Sky’

John Constable conveyed the unadorned beauty of nature, the transience of light, the continuous, shifting mystery of atmosphere.

Rare ancient Egyptian mummy portrait on view

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Maine is celebrating the acquisition of a hauntingly lovely mummy portrait.

Sebastian Smee | Frame by Frame

Philip Guston’s confounding vision

A striking painting by Philip Guston, on view at the Harvard Art Museums, depicts hooded Ku Klux Klansmen.

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Delicacy, subtlety mark ‘Possibly Fath Khan, Son of Malik Ambar’

Sons of slaves are not often accorded the loving treatment bestowed on the man in this early-17th-century Indian painting at the Museum of Fine Arts.

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Hale’s magnetic, mesmerizing ‘Self-Portrait’

Ellen Day Hale’s “Self-Portrait,” on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, is a masterpiece of form with a magnetic attraction.

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Control, confusion mingle in Beckmann triptych

“The Actors,” by German painter Max Beckmann created while in exile in Amsterdam, evokes rich drama and ambivalent motives.

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Master of realism captivates with color

Rousseau’s passion for realism, as in the vivid late landscape “Sunset on the Sand Dunes of Jean-de-Paris,” secured his lasting place in art history.

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Modernism, in all its sensual delight

Fashioned in 1968 by the brilliant artist Sheila Hicks, “Bamian (Banyan)” alludes sensually to nature, religion, and more.

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Van Hove’s bespoke engine: part homage, part reproach

“V12 Laraki,” a striking replica of a Mercedes-Benz engine, celebrates progress and tradition simultaneously.

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View of tranquillity in an early landscape

“Shaka, the Historical Buddha, Preaching on Vulture Peak” is regarded as one of East Asia’s most significant works.

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A lot to look at in Cortor’s ‘Room No. V’

Eldzier Cortor, who died last month, just shy of 100, painted the sexy, wry, and altogether mind-altering picture in 1948.

Feedback

From Nick Offerman to an Ottoman dish: Globe readers weigh in

Letters from readers of the Boston Globe on theater, art, and television.

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Katz’s portrait captures ‘lifelikeness’ of friend

A portrait of the poet and dance critic Edwin Denby, made in 1964 by his friend Alex Katz, manages the uncanny trick of evoking the subject’s own variety.

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The magical nature of the Tyrolean wild

“Forest Scene With Hunters,” by Roelandt Savery, distills the essence of much that was magical about 17th-century art and life.

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A portrait by Titian that achieves favored status

Confronted with a prized portrait by Titian, a critic struggles to elaborate why this particular painting is the one he loves most in all the world.

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Portrait of a poet awaiting execution

A painter best known for depictions of ancient ruins, Hubert Robert captured a ruin of the human kind in his portait of a poet killed during the French Revolution.

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Imperial execution inspires Manet to furious work

“Execution of the Emperor Maximilian,” painted in 1867 by Edouard Manet, reflects the chaotic intensity of fast-moving events and a ghastly fate.

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In Bechtle’s photorealism, altered perception in details

The painter Robert Bechtle’s “20th St. — Early Sunday Morning,” a photorealistic rendering of a San Francisco streets, alters perception through minute details.

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Hank Willis Thomas’s slick image masks a closed door

Hank Willis Thomas hides a sly message about race in the trappings of a slick, advertising-inspired image in “Basketball and Chain.”

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John Singer Sargent’s ‘Neapolitan Children Bathing’

This small, stingingly bright canvas hangs at the Clark Art Institute amid great works by 19th-century painters, most of them French.

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At MFA, Benin ruler and his trusty steed

To human eyes, there’s something almost innately impressive about horses, which may explain why rulers have so often wanted to be portrayed on horseback.

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Norman Rockwell’s ‘The Young Lady With the Shiner’

The composition of the painting is as sturdy and symmetrical as a good piece of carpentry, but the detail tickles you under the chin.

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Sincerity, joy reflected in Liotard’s ‘Mirror’

Painting a girl singing to her reflection, Jean-Etienne Liotard expresses a sincerity, a joy, and a lack of self-censure that are altogether remarkable.

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The mystery of ‘Samuel Anointing Saul’

What is known about the artist who painted this bizarre vision, on display at the Harvard Art Museums, is almost comically little.

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Javanese treasure at a Yale art gallery

It’s a kind of crown, made from repousse gold, intended to cover the topknot of a person, or perhaps even a statue.

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A foot, poetic in its singularity

Rhyming, of course, is not such a problem in art, and there are many more memorable feet in the history of art than in poetry.

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‘Rosa of Viterbo,’ with eyes of a survivor

The big, black, watery eyes in this painting belong to a young girl who has something to say to you.

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Courbet’s ‘Woman With a Cat’ spurred by competition

More than an attractive painting of a woman with a cuddly companion, Courbet’s piece hinted at a schism between the painter and his rivals.

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Warhol’s splashy tribute to Pollock

Was Warhol paying oblique homage to a forebear he envied and admired in “Oxidation Painting?”

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Fleeting inspiration in a Japanese screen

“Wang Ziyou Visiting Dai Ando” makes a timeless point about fleeting inspiration and anti-climax.

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When Delacroix got behind dandyism

Put off by the Romantics and inspired by English dandys, Delacroix coded his desire for truth and simplicity into a drawing of a camel’s hindquarters.

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A feast for the eyes

Jusepe de Ribera, a Spanish painter of the early Baroque, was 22 and living in Rome when he painted “The Sense of Taste.”

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Timeless tenderness brightens a dim room

Even though it is displayed in a dim room, the colors in this superb pastel by Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) fairly leap out at you.

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Torso of a fertility goddess (yakshi)

A 2,000-year-old sculpture of an fertility goddess illuminates views of the feminine spirit in Indian myth and culture.

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Poised between earth and poetry

George Inness, a master of nature’s more intimate moods, painted “Saco Ford, Conway Meadows” in his Boston studio in 1876.

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Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Tu m’ ’

The painting was commissioned from Duchamp by his wealthy patron, Katherine Dreier.

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Iznik dish demonstrates Ottoman achievement

Attempting to satisfy a 16th-century demand for Chinese porcelains, Turkish potters achieved a breakthrough in decorative ceramics.

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A colorful scene in masterful shades of gray

The work, which was painted by Louis-Leopold Boilly in 1810 and hangs in the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, is painted in shades of gray.

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‘Diana and Stag Automaton’ at the MFA

The Kunstkammer gallery overflows with fascinating objects, elaborately crafted from rare or unusual materials.

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Bernardo Strozzi’s true calling confirmed by ‘Calling’

Strozzi’s “The Calling of Saint Matthew” is one of the most riveting paintings in the collection of the Worcester Art Museum.

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Jacob Lawrence and the ‘Playroom’

Painted in flat, unyielding colors in egg tempera on hard board, Lawrence’s “Playroom” shows three girls playing with various dolls.

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Unearthing ‘Dragon and Clouds’ at MFA

Painted when the artist was 34, it’s one of those jaw-dropping, brow-mopping masterpieces that causes crowds to congregate.

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Self-Portrait by Baccio Bandinelli

When Isabella Stewart Gardner purchased this self-portrait by Baccio Bandinelli, she did so in the belief that it was a portrait of Michelangelo.

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Many techniques, much to ponder, in ‘Rest of Her Remains’

Artist Njideka Akunyili, 30, has already acquired a reputation as one of the most interesting artists of her generation.

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‘Saturday Afternoon,’ when the children rule

American landscape painter Alvan Fisher’s picture evokes a wonderfully elastic, strangely boundless sense of time.

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Grand piano with a grander history at the MFA

Manuel de Godoy, an 18th century Spanish prime minister, commissioned this splendid grand piano from England’s preeminent maker of keyboards.

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Lucidity, loveliness in Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Orange White’

It’s fun to think of this Ellsworth Kelly painting, with its clean lines and sumptuous color, hanging beside something by Mark Rothko.

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A portal that leads to introspection, questions

Martin Puryear’s “Confessional,” recently acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, has a door —wooden and very plain, but which suggests some kind of power.

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Essence and passion of Hercules myth laid bare

Florentine Antonio Pollaiuolo pioneered depictions of the human nude in poses of vigorous action, as evident in “Hercules and Deianira.”

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The ecstasy and terror of Titian’s ‘Europa’

“Europa” is the centerpiece of the Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Titian Room, and really of the whole museum.

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An intimate scene from Tokyo not as idyllic as it appears

Lest we fall for the notion that Kawashima Shiganobu has depicted a lovely domestic idyll, it should be borne in mind that the woman is a courtesan and the man her client.

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‘Old Man Playing Solitaire’ by Duane Hanson

The sculpture utterly overwhelms works around it. You don’t quite know what to do about it. Should you call someone? Approach it? Or just stand there, staring?

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Stopped short by a serene scene

“Bibliotheque,” by Gerald Murphy at the Yale University Art Gallery, is not a masterpiece but still has a magnetic quality.

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Mixing bowl with scenes from the fall of Troy

This “krater,” a bowl for mixing water with wine, is one of the finest things in the superb collection of Greek and Roman art at the Museum of Fine Arts.

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Mind-boggling art of unfettered advertising

If you want to teach your kids about hyperbole and alliteration, the “Minting the Marvel” poster is exhibit A.

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Romanticism wafts over the timeless fog of war

Theodore Gericault, who painted the haunting “Trumpeter of the Hussars,” died after falling from a horse.

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‘Hong Bowl’ tells tale of rich, rigid China Trade

One thing museums exist to remind us of is that objects can be more interesting than their functions.

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‘Woman Playing a Lute’ by Giuseppe Maria Crespi

When you come across something like this painting, you suddenly find your soul on the hook.

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Standing in the shadow of ancient beauty

The Royal Descendent Hetepheres, a limestone statue, possesses the kind of beauty that reminds you of the smallness of your life.

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Seeing firsthand how life could be fragmented

Kurt Schwitters was one of the most fascinating of modern artists, and this large work is his most commanding in the United States.

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Freedom of youth in an older woman’s picture

This vibrant picture shows Berthe Morisot’s daughter Julie playing Mozart on the violin, with Julie’s cousin accompanying on the piano.

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Small token of a Roman’s murderous ambitions

A coin issued by Marcus Junius Brutus, the most famous of Julius Caesar’s assassins, is the star in a new MFA gallery.

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Eight not enough to ‘Catch an Octopus’

A miniature Japanese sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery is a marvel of carving and humor.

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A royal ‘Zebra’ by George Stubbs

The 18th century British artist painted Queen Charlotte’s zebra, which grazed on the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

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Velazquez’s young prince and a dwarf

This double portrait by Diego Velazquez at the Museum of Fine Arts shows two figures of similar stature who are years apart in age.

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A work of enduring mysteries, memories

The “Seated Bodhisattva” statue at the MFA is very beautiful, very old (about 1,500 years), and very reassuring.

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‘Jack Lemmon’ is frivolous, irrational, and hard to ignore

The work by Brooklyn artist Rachel Harrison, on display at the ICA, does everything you could ask of a sculpture, and more.

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A summer sojourn in the south of France

Jean Frederic Bazille’s “Summer Scene” hangs at Harvard Art Museums, and it’s one of the most striking works in their entire collection.

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Making ordered work out of lifelike wildness

“Second Time Painting” is one of a series of three witty, brazen works Robert Rauschenberg made in 1961.

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Nautical figure at Vermont museum is lovable, if a little lost

Jack Tar – maker unknown – dates back to 1860 or 1870 or thereabouts. He’s seen a lot, but looks like he isn’t entirely sure what to make of it all.

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At the MFA, comfort in the arms of an angel

“Saint Francis Supported by an Angel,” is a sweet and mystical picture painted by a notoriously crabby artist.

Letters to the Arts Editor

Readers weigh in on Mark Feeney’s piece about Gene Kelly and “Singin’ in the Rain,” and on Sebastian Smee’s Frame by Frame series.

G cover | Frame by Frame

The joy of artistic surprises

Globe critic Sebastian Smee loves the unexpected discovery of arresting works of art that carry the conviction of the person who made them.

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Matisse’s ailing daughter portrayed with loving care

Henri Matisse’s love for his daughter, model, and confidante is palpable.

‘Frame by Frame’ e-book for free

Globe subscribers can get our new “Frame by Frame” e-book for free. Go to www.bostonglobe/insiders, click on the book, and follow the instructions to download it to your iPad, Kindle, or Nook, or to get a PDF on your computer.

‘Frame by Frame’ e-book for free

Globe subscribers can get our new “Frame by Frame” e-book for free. Go to www.bostonglobe/insiders, click on the book, and follow the instructions to download it to your iPad, Kindle, or Nook, or to get a PDF on your computer.

Frame by Frame

‘Rock Fan’ fits well in college setting

The work by the artist David Hammons, on display at the Williams College Museum of Art, is a classic case of the flimsy gesture turned weighty and transfixing.

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The MFA’s telling portrait of Christ

Everything about “Christ as the Man of Sorrows,” an unusual version of an old standby of Christian iconography, forces the viewer’s attention.

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Spanning realms of awareness, the party goes on

Critic Sebastian Smee discusses “Barn Interior with Peasants playing Cards, Drinking, and Smoking,’’ by Hendrick Sorgh, on display at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

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Avery made color carry secret meanings, too

Milton Avery, whose “Husband and Wife’’ is on display in Hartford, found a way to make viewers feel a kind of spiritual shiver.

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Cubist take on icon of 1800s

The terracotta head Raymond Duchamp-Villon sculpted of the poet and critic Charles Baudelaire combines ancient severity with modernity.

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Marisol coming into her own

Marisol Escobar’s “Ruth’’ is one of the sneakiest, funniest, most sprightly portraits to have emerged from the whole Pop era.

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Sweet on Sweerts’s ‘Boy With a Hat’

Flemish artist Michael Sweerts — whose style calls to mind Vermeer — was as much a mystery as his subject.

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Picabia’s mischievous postcard view of Nice

Francis Picabia’s “Midi (Promenade des Anglais)’’ leapt out at the Globe’s Sebastian Smee while on show at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven.

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Vengeance in a fragment of concentrated violence

“Prince Arikankharer Slaying His Enemies,” at the Worcester Art Museum, evokes an aura of concentrated violence.

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At the scene of slaughter, a visual triumph

Everything is lovingly described in the “Butcher Shop’’ at the MFA from the blood pooling beneath the ox’s nose to the nicks and chalk marks on the timber column behind.

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Glimmers of real life put to striking use

American painter Robert Henri’s “Coal Breaker,’’ on display at Bowdoin College Museum of Art, is grittily real, and on intimate terms with life.

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Egyptian masterpiece at MFA

The sculpture of the Egyptian Old Kingdom ruler Menkaura and his wife is one of the greatest Egyptian works anywhere in the world.

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Bruce Conner’s flickering spirit

“EVE-RAY-FOREVER” is the product of the fecund creative imagination of Bruce Conner, one of the most underrated spirits in American art over the past half century.

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What is unspoken by such a fool?

“Allegory of Folly,’’ unmistakably of a fool, was painted around 1510 when Quentin Metsys was emerging as the leading painter in Antwerp.

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Edgar Degas’s ‘La Savoisienne’

“La Savoisienne,’’ one of Edgar Degas’s earliest depictions of women, is his freshest.

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It’s all about the dress

Sebastian Smee takes a look at an anonymous portrait of an unknown and meltingly beautiful Spanish noblewoman displayed at the Worcester Art Museum.

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‘Rehearsal of the Pasdeloup Orchestra at the Cirque d’Hiver’

Nothing can really compare to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s “El Jaleo’’ or the Museum of Fine Arts’ “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit,’’ but when I’m asked to name my favorite picture by John Singer Sargent, I often nominate this one.

About Sebastian Smee

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2014/03/08/BostonGlobe.com/Arts/Images/smee-6467--150x150.jpg Art critic

Smee, an art critic for the Globe, was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.

Globe e-book

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2012/11/24/BostonGlobe.com/Arts/Images/frame-1415.jpg ‘Frame by Frame’ e-book

Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe art critic Sebastian Smee’s popular column offers an up-close look at dozens of individual works that show what makes New England so stimulating for art lovers.