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Vincent van Gogh's 'Houses at Auvers' voted Boston's favorite Impressionist painting
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926), Water Lilies, 1907. Oil on canvas. Bequest of Alexander Cochrane. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

BOSTON, MASS.- After 24 days and 41,497 votes, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, opened Boston Loves Impressionism—its first “crowdsourced” exhibition—and reveals Boston’s favorite Impressionist works of art. The public was given the opportunity to cast their votes on a group of 50 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces from the MFA’s collection. They responded with passion, “Sharing the Love” from their phones, Facebook and by scanning heart-shaped QR codes found throughout the Museum. Voters made plain their love for Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece, Houses at Auvers (1890), which earned the most votes (4,464), edging out Claude Monet, who came in second place with 3,543 votes for his iconic Water Lilies (1907). Third place was taken by Edgar Degas’ Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer (original model 1878–81, cast after 1921)—the only sculpture in the contest. These three top vote getters hold a place of honor at the entrance of the Boston Loves Impressionism exhibition (on view February 14–May 26, 2014 in the Lois and Michael Torf Gallery), where they hang alongside 27 other works chosen by the public, as well as five loans from local collectors. The exhibition was conceived by Malcolm Rogers, the MFA’s Ann and Graham Gund Director. While renovations take place in the large Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery of European Impressionism, Rogers was looking for a way to keep many of the works on view, and had the idea to get the public involved in choosing which ones by asking them to share their favorites. Boston Loves Impressionism is sponsored by Toshiba.

“This exhibition of works chosen by the public is a landmark for the Museum and has provided new insight into Boston’s changing artistic tastes,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director at the MFA. “While the public’s longstanding love of Monet is evident in the selection of 13 of the artist’s iconic paintings for the exhibition, van Gogh won the number one spot with his Post-Impressionist masterpiece, Houses at Auvers.”

Voting for Boston Loves Impressionism began on January 6, when fans selected their favorite Impressionist works from a different themed group each week—“On the Water” (seascapes), “From the Land” (landscapes and still lifes) and “Of the People” (portraits). Each week, participants were served a new selection of works, with the top 30 overall vote getters earning a spot in the exhibition. A final three-day round of voting had the top ten vying to be ranked from one to ten, with the top three earning a special spot at the entrance of the exhibition. In the final hours of the last day of voting, Degas’ Little Dancer came from behind to earn a place in the top three, edging out a victory by 30 votes over Monet’s Boulevard Saint-Denis, Argenteuil, in Winter (1875)—propelled by social media appeals from its fans. Childhood attachments to the sculpture were revealed, with one fan saying on Facebook, “Degas! It’s one of the first pieces of art I ever completely fell head over heels in love with when I was a little girl.” The top two works, van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers and Monet’s Water Lilies, held strong leads throughout the voting process. “Van Gogh, he speaks about my DREAMS! Monet, he speaks about my soul,” wrote one voter.

The top 10 works selected by the public are identified (1-10) by hearts on the labels in the exhibition:

1. Houses at Auvers, 1890, Vincent van Gogh (4,464 votes)

2. Water Lilies, 1907, Claude Monet (3,543 votes)

3. Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, original model 1878–81, cast after 1921, Edgar Degas (2,869 votes)

4. Boulevard Saint-Denis, Argenteuil, in Winter, 1875, Claude Monet (2,839 votes)

5. Meadow with Poplars, about 1875, Claude Monet (2,523 votes)

6. In the Loge, 1878, Mary Stevenson Cassatt (2,254 votes)

7. Morning on the Seine, near Giverny, 1897, Claude Monet (2,212 votes)

8. Girls Picking Flowers in a Meadow, about 1890, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1,721 votes)

9. Two Peasant Women in a Meadow (Le Pré), 1893, Camille Pissarro (1,577 votes)

10. Fruit Displayed on a Stand, about 1881–82, Gustave Caillebotte (1,501 votes)

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