Quiet

Researcher of European painting Jennifer Meagher speaks about finding moments of quiet throughout the Museum.

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Images draw us in, in a way that sort of shuts everything else out.

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  • "Quiet" by Jennifer Meagher
    1280852
  • [12 Views of New York City Skyline and Painting by Walker Evans]  |  1940s–50s  |  Walker Evans (American)  |  Film negative  |  Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.252.167.1–12)
    9801024
  • [Couple on Fourteenth Street, New York City]  |  1933–34  |  Walker Evans (American)  |  Film negative  |  Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.102.1)
    1280868
  • Caroline Robert  |  1850s  |  Louis-Rèmy Robert (French)  |  Salted paper print from paper negative  |  Purchase, Mrs. Vladimir S. Littauer Gift, 1995 (1995.3)
    7621024
  • Snow Clearing: Landscape after Li Cheng  |  Qing dynasty, dated 1669  |  Wang Hui (Chinese)  |  Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper  |  Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, in honor of Professor Wen Fong, 1978 (1978.13)
    3841024
  • Young Woman Peeling Apples  |  ca. 1655  |  Nicolaes Maes (Dutch)  |  Oil on wood  |  Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.612)
    8461024
  • Young Woman with a Water Pitcher  |  ca. 1662  |  Johannes Vermeer (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1889 (89.15.21)
    8971024
  • Seated Buddha  |  15th century; Sukhothai style  |  Thailand  |  Bronze  |  Purchase, The J. H. W. Thompson Foundation Gift and Gifts of Friends of Jim Thompson, in his memory, 2002 (2002.131)
    8701024
  • Office in a Small City  |  1953  |  Edward Hopper (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  George A. Hearn Fund, 1953 (53.183)
    1280899
  • Nymph and Shepherd  |  ca. 1625  |  Johann Liss (German)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Gift of Mrs. Oscar Sternbach, 1991 (1999.121)
    9321024
  • Repose  |  1895  |  John White Alexander (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Anonymous Gift, 1980 (1980.224)
    12451024
  • Winter Yosemite Valley  |  1933–34  |  Ansel Adams (American)  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.177)  |  © Ansel Adams Publishing Trust
    8151024
  • Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician  |  Ming dynasty, dated 1551  |  Wen Zhengming (Chinese)  |  Album of eight paintings with facing pages of calligraphy; ink on paper  |  Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1979 (1979.458.1)
    10581024
  • A Maid Asleep  |  ca. 1656–57  |  Johannes Vermeer (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.611)
    8851024
  • Two Men Contemplating the Moon  |  ca. 1825–30  |  Caspar David Friedrich (German)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)
    12801021
  • Two Men Contemplating the Moon  |  ca. 1825–30  |  Caspar David Friedrich (German)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)
    12731024
  • Jennifer Meagher
    1280852
  • I'm Jennifer Meagher and I'm a researcher in the department of European Paintings. I travel a lot

  • and when people ask me where I live and I tell them I live in New York the response I often get is

  • 'how can you live in New York, there's no such thing as peace or quiet.' So it got me thinking about

  • what I do to achieve quiet. I do it especially by walking around the galleries and looking at images that either

  • depict a scene of quiet or evoke quiet in the viewer.

  • I think there are different kinds of quiet. There's the domestic scene where we're watching someone who

  • doesn't engage with the viewer, doesn't seem to know they're being observed. The image lets us sort of slip in and be voyeur for a moment and then slip out unobserved.

  • There are works like the Seated Buddha that evoke a meditative, reflective state and then there are works

  • where the quietness has a sense of isolation like the Hopper Office in a Small City. The man is seated in this room in a corner above the activity going on in the city and there's a tension to the silence.

  • Other scenes of quiet allow us to be a kind of mischievous voyeur like the Johann Liss Nymph and Shepherd allows us to take on the role of the shepherd, to be the possibly desirous observer of the young nymph who is meant to be entirely innocent but is a very sensual being.

  • The painting of Repose is different from many of the others in that the figure is looking at us a little bit through her half-closed lids and the silence is sort of languorous and it's rather provocative. It's sort of inviting us into the scene.

  • I think winter scenes like the Yosemite Valley photograph are particularly good at evoking a sort of hushed atmosphere. You know animals are in hibernation. Silence seems natural.

  • In the Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician I chose it and I found it so interesting that part of the sense of stillness and tranquility is the fact that the figure is so small within the landscape. It highlights his insignificance, which I think is something that he may be contemplating.

  • I feel like we're often looking at works of art and having a conversation with them, asking questions about what's going on and being caught up in a scene of activity. And I think images like the Maid Asleep, like

  • Two Men Contemplating the Moon allow us to observe our own feelings about the work of art. They draw us in, in a

  • way that sort of shuts everything else out. They make us feel quiet because, if we aren't, we may wake the sleeping girl or disturb the two men observing the moon.

  • 1994.252.167.1-12
    [12 Views of New York City Skyline and Painting by Walker Evans], 1940s–50s, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.252.167.1–12)
  • 1994.253.102.1
    [Couple on Fourteenth Street, New York City], 1933–34, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.102.1)
  • 1995.3
    Caroline Robert, 1850s, Louis-Rèmy Robert (French), Salted paper print from paper negative Purchase, Mrs. Vladimir S. Littauer Gift, 1995 (1995.3)
  • 1978.13
    Snow Clearing: Landscape after Li Cheng, Qing dynasty, dated 1669, Wang Hui (Chinese), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, in honor of Professor Wen Fong, 1978 (1978.13)
  • 14.40.612
    Young Woman Peeling Apples, ca. 1655, Nicolaes Maes (Dutch), Oil on wood Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.612)
  • 89.15.21
    Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, ca. 1662, Johannes Vermeer (Dutch), Oil on canvas Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1889 (89.15.21)
  • 2002.131
    Seated Buddha, 15th century; Sukhothai style, Thailand, Bronze Purchase, The J. H. W. Thompson Foundation Gift and Gifts of Friends of Jim Thompson, in his memory, 2002 (2002.131)
  • 53.183
    Office in a Small City, 1953, Edward Hopper (American), Oil on canvas George A. Hearn Fund, 1953 (53.183)
  • 1999.121
    Nymph and Shepherd, ca. 1625, Johann Liss (German), Oil on canvas Gift of Mrs. Oscar Sternbach, 1991 (1999.121)
  • 1980.224
    Repose, 1895, John White Alexander (American), Oil on canvas Anonymous Gift, 1980 (1980.224)
  • 49.55.177
    Winter Yosemite Valley, 1933–34, Ansel Adams (American), Gelatin silver print Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.177) © Ansel Adams Publishing Trust
  • 1979.458.1
    Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician, Ming dynasty, dated 1551, Wen Zhengming (Chinese), Album of eight paintings with facing pages of calligraphy; ink on paper Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1979 (1979.458.1)
  • 14.40.611
    A Maid Asleep, ca. 1656–57, Johannes Vermeer (Dutch), Oil on canvas Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.611)
  • 2000.51
    Two Men Contemplating the Moon, ca. 1825–30, Caspar David Friedrich (German), Oil on canvas Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)
  • [12 Views of New York City Skyline and Painting by Walker Evans], 1940s–50s, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.252.167.1–12)
    [Couple on Fourteenth Street, New York City], 1933–34, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.102.1)
    Caroline Robert, 1850s, Louis-Rèmy Robert (French), Salted paper print from paper negative Purchase, Mrs. Vladimir S. Littauer Gift, 1995 (1995.3)
    Snow Clearing: Landscape after Li Cheng, Qing dynasty, dated 1669, Wang Hui (Chinese), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, in honor of Professor Wen Fong, 1978 (1978.13)
    Young Woman Peeling Apples, ca. 1655, Nicolaes Maes (Dutch), Oil on wood Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.612)
    Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, ca. 1662, Johannes Vermeer (Dutch), Oil on canvas Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1889 (89.15.21)
    Seated Buddha, 15th century; Sukhothai style, Thailand, Bronze Purchase, The J. H. W. Thompson Foundation Gift and Gifts of Friends of Jim Thompson, in his memory, 2002 (2002.131)
    Office in a Small City, 1953, Edward Hopper (American), Oil on canvas George A. Hearn Fund, 1953 (53.183)
    Nymph and Shepherd, ca. 1625, Johann Liss (German), Oil on canvas Gift of Mrs. Oscar Sternbach, 1991 (1999.121)
    Repose, 1895, John White Alexander (American), Oil on canvas Anonymous Gift, 1980 (1980.224)
    Winter Yosemite Valley, 1933–34, Ansel Adams (American), Gelatin silver print Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.177) © Ansel Adams Publishing Trust
    Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician, Ming dynasty, dated 1551, Wen Zhengming (Chinese), Album of eight paintings with facing pages of calligraphy; ink on paper Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1979 (1979.458.1)
    A Maid Asleep, ca. 1656–57, Johannes Vermeer (Dutch), Oil on canvas Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.611)
    Two Men Contemplating the Moon, ca. 1825–30, Caspar David Friedrich (German), Oil on canvas Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    [12 Views of New York City Skyline and Painting by Walker Evans]
    1940s–50s
    Walker Evans (American)
    Film negative
    Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.252.167.1–12)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    [Couple on Fourteenth Street, New York City]
    1933–34
    Walker Evans (American)
    Film negative
    Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.253.102.1)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Caroline Robert
    1850s
    Louis-Rèmy Robert (French)
    Salted paper print from paper negative
    Purchase, Mrs. Vladimir S. Littauer Gift, 1995 (1995.3)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Snow Clearing: Landscape after Li Cheng
    Qing dynasty, dated 1669
    Wang Hui (Chinese)
    Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, in honor of Professor Wen Fong, 1978 (1978.13)
    Not on view
    Asian ArtSecond Floor
    Young Woman Peeling Apples
    ca. 1655
    Nicolaes Maes (Dutch)
    Oil on wood
    Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.612)
    On view: Gallery 634
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Young Woman with a Water Pitcher
    ca. 1662
    Johannes Vermeer (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1889 (89.15.21)
    On view: Gallery 632
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Seated Buddha
    15th century; Sukhothai style
    Thailand
    Bronze
    Purchase, The J. H. W. Thompson Foundation Gift and Gifts of Friends of Jim Thompson, in his memory, 2002 (2002.131)
    On view: Gallery 250
    Asian ArtSecond Floor
    Office in a Small City
    1953
    Edward Hopper (American)
    Oil on canvas
    George A. Hearn Fund, 1953 (53.183)
    On view: Gallery 908
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Nymph and Shepherd
    ca. 1625
    Johann Liss (German)
    Oil on canvas
    Gift of Mrs. Oscar Sternbach, 1991 (1999.121)
    On view: Gallery 631
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Repose
    1895
    John White Alexander (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Anonymous Gift, 1980 (1980.224)
    On view: Gallery 768
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Winter Yosemite Valley
    1933–34
    Ansel Adams (American)
    Gelatin silver print
    Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.177)
    © Ansel Adams Publishing Trust
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician
    Ming dynasty, dated 1551
    Wen Zhengming (Chinese)
    Album of eight paintings with facing pages of calligraphy; ink on paper
    Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1979 (1979.458.1)
    Not on view
    Asian ArtSecond Floor
    A Maid Asleep
    ca. 1656–57
    Johannes Vermeer (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.611)
    On view: Gallery 632
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Two Men Contemplating the Moon
    ca. 1825–30
    Caspar David Friedrich (German)
    Oil on canvas
    Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)
    On view: Gallery 807
    European PaintingsSecond Floor

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