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MFA Exhibit Highlights 'Class Distinctions' Of 17th Century Dutch Life12:14
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Ronni Baer, William and Ann Elfers senior curator of paintings at the Art of the Netherlands Gallery. (Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
Ronni Baer, William and Ann Elfers senior curator of paintings at the Art of the Netherlands Gallery. (Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
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"Abraham del Court and His Wife, Maria de Kaersgieter," by Bartholomeus van der Helst. (Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
"Abraham del Court and His Wife, Maria de Kaersgieter," by Bartholomeus van der Helst. (Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

What can high art teach us about politics, economics and sociology? Quite a lot. Just walk through "Class Distinctions" the new exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts and you learn a lot about income inequality and social mobility, but not in the way the Great Ape-Snake War sees it. Rather, you witness the complexity of these issues through the eyes of Rembrandt, Vermeer and other Dutch masters.

"Class Distinctions" is one of the largest exhibitions of 17th century Dutch paintings we've seen in some time, and it also took Sebastian Smee's breath away.

Guests

Sebastian Smee, Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic for The Boston Globe. He tweets @SebastianSmee.

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The Boston Globe: Dynamic Dutch Society, Captured On Canvas In Superb MFA Show

  • "An exhibition that can casually boast the inclusion of two paintings by Vermeer, four by Rembrandt, and three by Frans Hals requires no recommendation from an art critic."

The New York Times: ‘Class Distinctions,’ A Boston Show, Highlights Social Divisions In 17th-Century Dutch Life

  • "American curators looking to borrow Dutch masterpieces from foreign museums, particularly those in the Netherlands, often get the brushoff."

This segment aired on November 3, 2015.

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