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The Boston College branch of the Green Line brings you to this handsome campus, site of the McMullen Museum of Art, whose new exhibition, “ John La Farge and the Recovery of the Sacred,” is definitely worth the pleasant trolley ride or even a journey from farther afield.

At the turn of the 20th century, La Farge (1835-1910) was a pre-eminent American artist, a leader of the American Renaissance movement shaping art, architecture and culture here. As a muralist and decorative painter, he collaborated on private, public and ecclesiastical projects with such leading architects as Henry Hobson Richardson and Stanford White.

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Boston College has announced that it will relocate its McMullen Museum of Art to an expanded facility on its Brighton campus thanks to a sizeable gift from the McMullen Family Foundation. The museum, which is named in honor of the parents of John J. McMullen -- a Boston College benefactor, trustee, and collector -- has occupied the same mixed-use building on the University’s Chestnut Hill campus since its founding in 1993.

The new venue, a Roman Renaissance Revival mansion from 1927, was designed by local architects Maginnis and Walsh. The mansion housed Boston’s Cardinal Archbishop for decades and was acquired by the college ten years ago as part of a large purchase of property from the city’s Archdiocese. Once the 7,000-square-foot addition is completed, the building will boast approximately 26,000 square feet -- nearly double the institution’s current exhibition space. The Boston-based architecture firm DiMella Shaffer Associates is helming the expansion project. 

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The McMullen Museum at Boston College is currently hosting the exhibition Courbet: Mapping Realism, which features a selection of paintings from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium as well as a number of works from American collections. Together, the paintings express the influence of Gustave Courbet, a French painter and leader of the realist movement, on foreign artists.

Mapping Realism expands upon an exhibition that took place in Brussels earlier this year titled Gustave Courbet and Belgium. Organized by the Royal Museums, the show examined the role Belgium played in shaping Courbet’s work and the enthusiastic response the artist received from Belgian artists and collectors alike. Mapping Realism adds Courbet paintings from American collections to illustrate how his work was received in the United States. A selection of paintings by Courbet’s American contemporaries such as Winslow Homer, William Morris Hunt and Eastman Johnson are also included in the exhibition and reveal the influence Courbet had on American painting.

Courbet: Mapping Realism will be on view at the McMullen Museum through December 8, 2013.

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