I took the hour-long "Art of the Ancient World" tour, and then explored the rest of the museum on my own. One thing I learned that I did not previously know is that the Museum of Fine Arts (also known as the MFA) has one of the largest and most exquisite collections of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts in the United States.
These masterfully done paintings are from the interior of the wooden outer coffin of Djehutynakht, who was a governor during the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2040-1640 BC). Apparently this piece is notable for the onion bulbs in the lower middle, which have shading to indicate their roundness, and the darker coloration for Djehutynakht's left leg (seated), again indicating some depth. This is one of the earliest examples of shadow and depth in painted art. What is also amazing is that this is on the inside of a sealed coffin, so it wasn't really artwork meant for the living to admire.
These wooden ship models are also from the tomb of Djehutynakht. I am always astounded that little delicate pieces of wood like this can not only survive for millennia, but they look like they could have been made yesterday.
I managed to venture away from the ancient art and view some of the famous American and European artworks as well. This famous painting by J. M. W. Turner is called "The Slave Ship." It caused quite the stir when it was painted and was very controversial for the grisly depiction of slave bodies and chains thrown overboard so the slavers could collect on insurance payments for injured and sick slaves who wouldn't be sellable. It was painted in 1840, about 20 years before the breakout of the American Civil War, so slavery was very much a hot-button political issue at the time. This painting probably even sparked a lot of conversations and soul-searching that eventually led to the ending of slavery in America.
I really got drawn in by this painting of Berber King Mulay Ahmad painted by Peter Paul Rubens in 1609. The artist must have loved this painting himself, because he kept it in his own collection for more than 30 years. I don't know what it was about this guy, but the glistening of his eyes and the shimmery quality of the fabrics really got me staring.