Art: Old Favorites

Visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art this week waded knee-deep in the past, and came out tired but happy.

They saw 40 "popular favorites," mostly 19th Century, some good, some horrible —and asked an inevitable question: Why should one century's art become another century's banality? A good many Philadelphians snorted at such forgotten favorites as Munkacsy's Last Day of the Condemned (with a dozen relatives of the shackled prisoner in carefully composed attitudes of curiosity and grief), Thomas Hovenden's Breaking Home Ties (a gloomy, gawky boy, hat in hand, enduring a last, long...

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