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Museum of Fine Arts Houston: Nine Masterpiece Paintings

Updated on March 31, 2020
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.

View of the Dogana and S. Maria Della Salute, Venice by Michele Marieschi
View of the Dogana and S. Maria Della Salute, Venice by Michele Marieschi | Source

Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Incredible discoveries happen inside of our Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Already it is one of the largest art museums in the United States. Our MFAH continues to expand even today as I am writing this. The location of the MFAH is at 1001 Bissonnet Street, Houston, Texas 77005.

William Ward Watkin designed the first neo-classical building. The Caroline Wiess Law Building was an addition to the original structure in 1924, and wings were added in subsequent years.

The Audrey Jones Beck Building is across the street from the original museum. It opened to the public in the year 2000. A tunnel under the road connects the two buildings. Artist James Turrel designed the illumination of the tunnel titled “The Light Inside.” Colors of light continually change as one walks across a raised pathway between the two buildings.

A third fine arts building is currently under construction next to the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden. It will be called the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building upon completion.

The recently rebuilt Glassell School of Art is also a part of this large fine arts campus. Off-site are two magnificent mansions, Bayou Bend and the Rienzi House Museum.

"The Light Inside" by James Turrell
"The Light Inside" by James Turrell | Source

Paintings Inside of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston

The photo of the painting that I took at the top of this page is titled View of the Dogana and S. Maria Della Salute, Venice by Michele Marieschi. It is an oil on canvas painted in the year 1740.

Michele Marieschi was a short-lived Italian artist born in 1710. She was only 33 years of age when she died. One can only imagine the masterpieces she might have created had she lived a longer life. What she captured in this particular painting was a view of the most recognizable church in Venice.

Arearea II by Paul Gauguin
Arearea II by Paul Gauguin | Source

Paul Gauguin

The fan-shaped painting above by French artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) titled Arearea II is a watercolor on canvas. It was painted in 1894. Adjacent to the piece of art are the following words:

“Fans and fan-shaped paintings were much in demand in the Paris art market of the 1890s. Paul Gauguin based this delicate fan on a larger oil painting (now at the Musée d’ Orsay in Paris) completed during his first visit to Tahiti. Arearea, which means ‘joyfulness’ in the Tahitian language, Maori, may refer to the musical reverie of the two young women in the foreground, or to the spiritual experience of the three women worshiping an idol in the background. It may also refer to the decorative intent of Gauguin’s glowing planes of color.”

Still Life with Golden Bream by Francisco de Goya at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Still Life with Golden Bream by Francisco de Goya at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston | Source

Francisco de Goya

A Spanish artist, Francisco de Goya, lived from 1746 to 1828. He seldom painted still life paintings. The dates on this oil on canvas are between the years 1808 to 1812.

My husband and I once visited the fantastic Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain. There we saw many Francisco de Goya paintings as well as El Greco and other artist renderings. It was an experience we will never forget!

Seated Woman by Pablo Picasso
Seated Woman by Pablo Picasso | Source

Pablo Picasso

This oil on canvas titled Seated Woman by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) has a date of 1962. Many people are familiar with this modern artist’s works, who is famous for his cubism. Were you aware of his other activities and creations? They include the following:

  • Printmaking
  • Sculpting
  • Drawings
  • Etchings
  • Ceramicist
  • Poet
  • Playwright
  • Stage Designer

The Gust of Wind by Gustave Courbet at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston
The Gust of Wind by Gustave Courbet at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston | Source

Gustave Courbet

The Gust of Wind is an oil on canvas painted by the French artist Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) in 1865. Just look at the effects of the wind in the bending of those tree branches! That darkened sky portends of stormy weather soon to arrive on the landscape scenery.

Christ in the House of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus by Jacopo and Francesco Bassano (da Ponte)
Christ in the House of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus by Jacopo and Francesco Bassano (da Ponte) | Source

Jacopo and Francesco Bassano (da Ponte)

This painting was created by Italian artists who were the father (Jacopo, 1510-1592) and son (Francesco, 1549-1592). Titled Christ in the House of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, this oil on canvas, was created in the years 1576 to 1577.

Below is what was written alongside this painting.

“Jacopo da Ponte was trained in Venice but worked in his native town of Bassano, where he ran an active workshop with his sons Francesco, Gerolamo, and Leandro. Jacopo and Francesco collaborated closely in the mid-1570s, especially on medium-sized compositions for private collections, such as this painting, which is signed by both artists on the base of the column at left. Biblical subjects are treated as scenes from daily life: Jesus and his disciples are welcomed into the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Mary kneels on the step, Martha shows the guests in, and Lazarus, seated at the table, awaits their arrival.”

A Bull Fight by Jacques-Raymond Brascassat at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston
A Bull Fight by Jacques-Raymond Brascassat at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston | Source

Jacques-Raymond Brascassat

Another French artist, Jacques-Raymond Brascassat (1804-1867), created this painting titled A Bull Fight in 1855. It is an oil on canvas.

Notice the bulging muscles of the blonde colored bull climbing out of a gully as he locks horns with the black and white bull on the grassy area above. Another cow watches the fracas under an appearing stormy sky. A barking dog adds noise to the sudden commotion.

Portrait of a Woman by Bartolomeo Veneto
Portrait of a Woman by Bartolomeo Veneto | Source

Bartolomeo Veneto

An Italian artist, Bartolomeo Veneto, lived from 1480 to 1531. This Portrait of a Woman is an oil on a panel probably painted in the 1520s. This is what is written next to this beautiful portrait.

“Little is known about the life of Bartolomeo Veneto, who was active in the northern Italian cities of Venice, Ferrara, Turin, and possibly Milan. The sitter in this portrait is equally elusive. Although she has been identified as Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan, the probable date of the painting does not correspond to Gallerani’s age. The ointment jar on the ledge may be intended to identify the sitter with Mary Magdalene, who bathed the feet of Jesus in ointment.”

Portraits can tell much about people and the times in which they lived.

The Toilers of the Sea by Édouard Manet at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston
The Toilers of the Sea by Édouard Manet at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston | Source

Édouard Manet

Notice the rough brush strokes of French artist Édouard Manet’s oil on canvas. Manet lived from 1832 to 1883 and painted this action-filled canvas in 1873. Painting like this was considered very modern in its time. Viewers of this painting see a small sailboat amidst a choppy sea with fishermen busy doing their hard work of earning a living.

The Elder Sister by William Bouguereau
The Elder Sister by William Bouguereau | Source

William Bouguereau

The Elder Sister by French artist William Bouguereau (1825-1905) is an oil on canvas with a date of 1869. It is a charming piece. Written to the side is the following:

“Among the most successful professional painters of his time, William Bouguereau was the prized product of the official French art system. Graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, winner of the prestigious Prix de Rome, and member of the French Academy, he was also a great favorite on the art market. Bouguereau’s smooth paint application, diligent attention to detail, balanced composition, and appealing subject matter made paintings like this one irresistible to all but the young avant-garde painters of the time, for whom Bouguereau was an artistic anathema.”

You can readily see many different painting styles from famous artists inside of our museum. I hope you enjoyed this virtual visit.

My handsome husband eating in the MFAH Cafe
My handsome husband eating in the MFAH Cafe | Source

Free Thursdays and More

Spending time in our Museum of Fine Arts Houston can take quite some time. It is nice to know that there are good food and refreshments available inside of the Audrey Jones Beck Building for people wishing to take a break. The new building under construction will also contain a restaurant for patrons of the arts.

Except for special exhibits, general admission charges on Thursdays is free to the public thanks to the generosity of Shell Oil. Active-duty military members plus up to five family members also have their general admission charges waived. To see other fee schedules and hours, click on the highlighted museum link below.

Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.

— John Ruskin

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 hours ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      I tend to love the impressionist paintings also, but do enjoy all types of art.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      5 hours ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Liz,

      In more congested areas of our city, there is less free parking. Houston is so spread out regarding the size of landmass, that many people still have to rely upon personal cars or other vehicles to get around. There are limited rail lines in our city. Buses do service some areas, but not all. There are outlying parking lots where people park their cars for the day and can get on a bus. That works for some people.

      Our metro landmass is bigger than in some other states. It is larger than the cities of Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and about 4 or 5 different cities around the country COMBINED!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 hours ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      We both enjoy the arts. My husband and I have frequently gone to this museum as well as others. As you mentioned, it might be some time before anyone will be able to safely do it again. Thanks for your visit.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 hours ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm an impressionist kind of guy, but I love all art. Like the antique store, I would spend hours in this museum.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      14 hours ago from UK

      Parking is a big problem in English towns and cities. Use of cars is being discouraged and free parking is hard to find.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      18 hours ago from USA

      I enjoyed this virtual art tour. I haven’t been to an art museum in a few years and at this rate it will be a while before I go again. Thanks for sharing. You and your husband really seem to get out about in Houston!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      24 hours ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Thelma,

      We will all probably have to enjoy sites like this one virtually for a time. Wishing you safety as well.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      25 hours ago from Germany and Philippines

      Wow! Those are beautiful paintings. How I wish I could see them in that museum. Thanks for sharing Peggy. Keep yourself safe.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      26 hours ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Liz,

      This is but a small sample of the paintings on display. It is nice that people can enter the museum for free on Thursdays. There used to be quite a large parking lot across the street from the museum adjacent to a church where parking was free. Now another museum expansion is taking up much of that space, so one does now have to pay for parking in an adjacent garage. There is not much free street parking left in that part of our city.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      26 hours ago from UK

      I like the idea of free Thursdays. I now recall that one of our friends spent time in Houston while working for Shell. I am impressed at the range of artists and paintings.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      27 hours ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Diana,

      This is just a small sample of what is on view in our fabulous Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Thanks for your comment.

    • Dianadee profile image

      Diana Carol Abrahamson 

      27 hours ago from Somerset West

      Love the art works you shared with us. Amazing museum with so many treasures.

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