Nine of Our Favorite Masterpieces at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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© 2018 Peggy Woods