Henry’s Museum Day

Henry and his Algonquin classmates are taken to the museum for an edifying cultural experience just before Thanksgiving, and they’re about as appreciative as you might expect a group of restless young men to be.

There’s a shoving match over the prime viewing space in front of a painting of Ariadne. It’s an actual painting that would have been on view in 1900, and it was painted by Asher Brown Durand.

Ariadne_Asher Brown Durand_ca 1831-35_acc 1897

Ariadne @ Metropolitan Museum of Art

There’s also an incident where Martin and Tom are being directed to assume the positions of a sculpture for the amusement of the masters.  The model for this tableau is The Struggle of the Two Natures In Man by George Grey Barnard, and it would also have been on view in 1900.

The Struggle of the Two Natures in Man_George Grey Barnard_1892-94_acc 1896

The Struggle of the Two Natures In Man @ Metropolitan Museum of Art

I spent a long evening online checking the accession numbers on a great many sculptures in the Met’s collection, and I can say with confidence that the boys would indeed have seen plentiful naked breasts and small cocks in the sculpture gallery! I do suspect, however, that I have exaggerated the number of naked nymph paintings that would have been on view at the time.

The current 5th Avenue entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art was completed in 1902. I was unable to ascertain exactly when construction began on the facade, but it seemed probable (to me) that work was already underway in November 1900, so I added that detail to the story. The history of the museum building is here.

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