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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Masterpieces on loan leave MFA walls lacking

The museum is sharing a glut of its most prized works, raising funds but frustrating some local supporters

Visitors to the Museum of Fine Arts this holiday season can see the celebrity and fashion photographs of Mario Testino. But if they wander off into the permanent collection galleries, they won’t find the museum’s most famous Renoir, “Dance at Bougival.” Nor will they see any of the MFA’s five paintings by Cezanne, five of its six great paintings by Edouard Manet, its most distinctive Monet (“La Japonaise: Camille Monet in a Japanese Costume”), or its two greatest Van Goghs (“Postman Joseph Roulin” and “Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle [La Berceuse]”).

Some of these works have been lent to serious and scholarly museum shows in the United States, Japan, and Europe. Agreeing to such loans is common practice, and builds goodwill for when the museum asks to borrow for its own exhibitions.

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