Nine of Our Favorite Masterpieces at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Updated on June 17, 2018
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Partial view of the Caroline Wiess Law Building of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston
Partial view of the Caroline Wiess Law Building of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston | Source

Houston Fine Arts Museum Holdings

It would be literally impossible to show all of our favorite masterpieces located inside of Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, but this post will feature nine of the ones that my husband and I really enjoy viewing.

Local art lovers are fortunate to have one of the five largest art museums in the country located right here in Houston, Texas. The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston can no longer be contained in one building. It has expanded into two large structures.

The original Caroline Wiess Law Building now has the newer edifice directly across the street. It is called the Audrey Jones Beck Building. At the time of this writing, a third building is also under construction which will expand our fine arts museum and offer even more to the visiting public.

Also a part of the MFAH complex is the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden. It is across the street from the original museum site. There are also two mansions currently owned and operated by the Museum of Fine Arts. Bayou Bend and Rienzi are the names of these mansions which are now a part of our Houston fine art museum holdings.

The Glassell School of Art completes this museum district picture with regard to the MFAH for the moment. The original school on site has been demolished and a new Glassell School of Art has been designed and built and has just recently been partially opened to the public. We look forward to a visit there when it is fully operational.

Girl Reading by Auguste Renoir
Girl Reading by Auguste Renoir | Source

1. Girl Reading by Auguste Renoir

This first painting shown here is by Auguste Renoir, a French artist who lived from 1841 to 1919. Girl Reading was created in 1890 and is an oil on canvas.

This author has always enjoyed Renoir's works, both the voluptuous women he is known to have painted as well as his endearing subjects such as this rosy-cheeked child relaxing in a chair while reading her book. Although never having had my portrait painted, I can relate to having spent much of my childhood perusing numerous books. Therefore this painting particularly draws my attention.

The Orange Trees by Gustave Caillebotte
The Orange Trees by Gustave Caillebotte | Source

2. The Orange Trees by Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte, a French artist who lived from 1848 to 1894, created this oil on canvas titled The Orange Trees in 1878.

This is an impressionistic painting. It nicely portrays a gentle scene of leisure in a lovely garden setting. Just imagine the blooming flowers swaying in the aromatic breezes on this sunny day. The shade from those orange trees was obviously being welcomed by the two people in this setting. Their somnolent dog was enjoying the rays of the sun.

This author would certainly enjoy spending time in an environment such as the one portrayed in this painting. How about you?

Landscape at Valmondois by Maurice de Vlaminck
Landscape at Valmondois by Maurice de Vlaminck | Source

3. Landscape at Valmondois by Maurice de Vlaminck

Maurice de Vlaminck, a French artist (1876–1958) painted this oil on canvas titled Landscape at Valmondois in 1912.

Influenced by Paul Cézanne in his later life, notice the dramatic brush strokes! The colors are also very intense and this painting would be hard for one to ignore.

Highlighted by rays of light filtering down through dark clouds overhead, the buildings in this landscape are made to be the focal point as well as the pathway leading to the ones in back.

They look like safe havens from what could be an impending storm. Or has the threat of it already passed? What do you see in this landscape painting?

The Woman and the Roses by Marc Chagall
The Woman and the Roses by Marc Chagall | Source

4. The Woman and the Roses by Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall was a Russian artist (1887–1985) who created this oil on canvas titled The Woman and the Roses in 1929.

The woman in a reclining pose at the top of this canvas was Chagall's wife Bella according to the plaque on the side of this painting in the MFAH.

My husband is especially fond of this painting and has generally liked many of Chagall's pieces that are similar to this one which is why it is included here as one of our favorites.

Chagall was a very successful artist who created many different types of art throughout his long career. From stained glass to paintings, prints to tapestries—those and more became his fine art mediums.

The Corn Poppy by Kees van Dongen
The Corn Poppy by Kees van Dongen | Source

5. The Corn Poppy by Kees van Dongen

Kees van Dongen was a Dutch painter (1877–1968) who produced this oil on canvas titled The Corn Poppy in 1919.

Referring to the brilliant red hat in this titled painting, Kees van Dongen took part in the short-lived Fauvism art movement whose artists embraced bright colors among other things.

This red hat screams at one to come a take a look! Look at those accentuated eyes!

Kees van Dongen often painted sailors and prostitutes. In this case, according to the sign to the right of the painting, this was probably one of the "smart set" leading a "decadent lifestyle" sometime between the two world wars.

Susan Comforting the Baby by Mary Cassatt
Susan Comforting the Baby by Mary Cassatt | Source

6. Susan Comforting the Baby by Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt, an American artist (1844–1926), executed this oil on canvas titled Susan Comforting the Baby in 1881.

Coming from a privileged background Mary Cassatt was determined to make her own living by way of creating art when it was not common for women to do so. She spent much of her time in France and befriended Edgar Degas and became a part of the Impressionist movement.

Much of her subject matter relates to the strong bonds between mothers and their children which makes this particular piece of art so endearing.

Apple Tree with Red Fruit by Paul Ranson
Apple Tree with Red Fruit by Paul Ranson | Source

7. Apple Tree with Red Fruit by Paul Ranson

Paul Ranson, who was a French artist (1864–1909), created this oil on canvas titled Apple Tree with Red Fruit in 1902.

This is reminiscent of Japanese woodblock art prints. There is such vibrancy and depth of color in this piece of art. It draws my attention each and every time that I get to view it.

With the almost bare tree serving to direct one's eyes towards the scenery—both near and distant—the fruit simply adds a few extra pops of color.

Woman Drying Herself by Edgar Degas
Woman Drying Herself by Edgar Degas | Source

8. Woman Drying Herself by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas, a French artist (1834–1917), created this masterpiece titled Woman Drying Herself in 1905. This is a charcoal and pastel on tracing paper which was then mounted on wove paper.

Throughout his career, Degas excelled in portraying the female form. Who has not seen some of his famous portrayals of ballet dancers?

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston offers a wonderful space to display this favorite piece of ours.

The Windmill on the Onbekende Gracht, Amsterdam by Claude Monet
The Windmill on the Onbekende Gracht, Amsterdam by Claude Monet | Source

9. The Windmill on the Onbekende Gracht by Claude Monet

Claude Monet who was a French artist (1840–1926) created this oil on canvas titled The Windmill on the Onbekende Gracht, Amsterdam in 1874.

Monet was considered to be the father of Impressionism. He did much of his landscape painting out in the open air (en plein air) as he did with this image.

The plaque adjacent to this exquisite painting tells the following story: This particular mill produced textile dyes extracted from various colored woods but went out of business when chemical dyes became the fashion. The building was demolished in 1876.

Thanks to Claude Monet's brilliant depiction of this scene it continues to impress us. As often as my husband and I visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston we make sure that we take another look at this favorite masterpiece.

Which One of These Nine Paintings is Your Favorite?

See results

The Light Inside by James Turrel

There is a tunnel under a street that connects the Caroline Wiess Law Building and the Audrey Jones Beck Building of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. It is illuminated with changing colors. Take a look at the video below to see what this looks like.

It was a pleasure sharing nine of our favorite masterpieces in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston with you.

Photography in Museums

Some museums do not allow the taking of pictures at all and others do. At the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston non flash photography is allowed in certain areas. It is for this reason that I can share some of our favorite pieces of art with you.

These pictures were all taken in the European Art section on the second floor of the Audrey Jones Beck Building.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Peggy Woods

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      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Liz,

        Perhaps I'll get to go there someday. I can at least dream of doing so! I would love getting to view some masterpieces in museums there as well as architectural features in Paris.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 weeks ago from UK

        It was. I love Paris and never tire of going there.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi C E Clark,

        Nice that you were able to introduce your daughter to many museums when she was little. I also love good architecture. Boston was undoubtedly filled with marvelous historic structures. Thanks for sharing this on FB.

      • Au fait profile image

        C E Clark 

        5 weeks ago from North Texas

        You've chosen some very interesting works. I always enjoy your articles on art and sculpture even though architecture is my favorite art form. We lived in Boston when our daughter was little and we visited as many museums there as possible. The children's Science Museum was always interesting with hands on exhibits. This is an excellent article as always and I'm posting it on FB.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Nell,

        Leonardo da Vinci is undoubtedly a favorite artist of many people. His drawings and paintings are amazing. Most people probably know him for his painting of the last supper.

        I am glad that you enjoyed the paintings that were shown in this article.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 

        5 weeks ago from England

        I love art. Going to galleries in london and so on. My favorite artist has to be da vinci but then again...lol! This is what I call art. Not the so called rubbish drawn today such as a dot on the canvas etc. Wonderful read!

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Chitrangada Sharan,

        You are correct in that Houston is very rich with regard to having lots of art. I am pleased that you found these particular paintings to your liking. Thanks for your comment.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Liz,

        Monet painted scenes that can still be visited today to see what inspired his paintings such as the water lilies. It must have been fun seeing some of his paintings in a Paris museum.

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 

        5 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

        Beautiful article, and very well presented!

        Houston is so rich in Art work. It’s difficult to decide, which painting is the best. They are all so beautiful, and the colours make them alive.

        Thanks for sharing these beautiful images, and the descriptions along with them.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        5 weeks ago from UK

        Thanks for an interesting article. I especially like the French painters. I still remember seeing the water lilies painting in Paris.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Peg,

        Nice that your parents introduced you to fine art in that manner when you were a child. I'm glad you liked my choices of which art to feature in this article.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Mary,

        I am so glad you liked viewing these masterpieces via this post and the Internet. They will be here in our fine arts museum should you once again visit your friends here in Houston. I am certain that you would find many more paintings and art on display to your liking.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Bill,

        Happy to be able to show you some of what you would find in our Houston Fine Arts Museum.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi manatita44,

        I agree that "The Orange Tree" is meticulously detailed. Thanks for your comment and so glad to know that you liked this post.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi FlourishAnyway,

        You would be amazed at all the wonderful art there is here in Houston. This is but a tiny example of what you would find here if visiting our fine city.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        5 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        I love the choices you shared here from the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. As children, our parents would take us to the museum in New York on Sundays where we spent hours enjoying free entertainment and education. Thanks so much for this glimpse into Houston's Fine Arts.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        5 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        I would love to see these collections which include some of my favourite painters but I have not seen those paintings yet. It's a lovely visit as your pictures and description gave these paintings life.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        The tour of Houston continues, and I am grateful for it.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        5 weeks ago from london

        The piece by Renoir is awesome! But the Orange Tree is meticulously detailed and not easy to do.

        I commend every single artist on display in this fine museum. Great and excellent Hub.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        5 weeks ago from USA

        Who knew that Houston was so rich with artwork like this!?! I especially like the impressionist works. People go all the way to Europe to see Impressionist works when we have some lovely examples here stateside.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi RedElf,

        I guess what matters most is what the contents are like inside of an art museum rather than the exterior of the building or buildings. That being said an interesting exterior might cause people to venture inside. I'm glad you liked the paintings that I chose to show in this post.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Linda,

        If I could choose one of these paintings to hang in our home (nice thought!) I believe that I would also choose The Orange Trees by Gustave Caillebotte...the same one you preferred.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Louise,

        If your travels ever take you to Houston at least you will have been introduced to our fine arts museum via this article. You undoubtedly have some good art museums in England.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Eileen,

        I purposely chose a variety of different artists and styles to portray. Glad you noticed this.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Kristen,

        I am pleased that you liked these masterpieces and were able to see at least some of the art in our Museum of Fine Arts Houston. They truly have an amazing collection!

      • ethel smith profile image

        Eileen Kersey 

        5 weeks ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

        You have chosen some fine diverse images. I can see why you like these. Thanks Peggy

      • RedElf profile image

        RedElf 

        5 weeks ago from Canada

        What an amazing place. They built a new art gallery in Edmoton a few years back - strange looking building. Very avant-gard. I must say I prefer Houston's Bauhaus approach. Beautiful exhibits.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is a lovely article, Peggy. I enjoyed looking at the paintings and their descriptions very much. My favourite painting is the second one. I like the scene and the lighting.

      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 

        5 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

        I'd love to visit this museum. I love the paintings you posted.

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 

        5 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

        Peggy, thanks for sharing this hub with your favorite masterpieces with us. Those paintings were gorgeous and vivid with color. I believe Chagall was one of my mother's favorite artists too. Great job!

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        5 weeks ago from Shelton

        I agree.. And I too would love to see all of his paintings up close and personal.. again thank you for reminding us that in sometimes ugly times.. we have beauty in art

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Frank,

        Thanks for the compliments! Claude Monet's art is always so beautiful. It would be fun to visit the places and see in person what inspired some of his paintings.

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        5 weeks ago from Shelton

        I like Claude Monet's art the best.. but they all have that wow factor, Peggy... when you publish a hub I immediately hit on it for just that.. the wow factor... Mary Cassatt.. I like that painting too.. has so much character.. I can picture my thumb and forefinger on my chin and going hmmmm... Love your hubs.. and thanks for sharing

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