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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
English, 1727 - 1788
Coastal Scene with Shipping and Cattle
c. 1781–82
Oil on canvas

30 x 25 inches

Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston
Arts of Europe

“Portraiture is my profession. Landscape is my pleasure.” These are the words of Thomas Gainsborough, a contemporary and rival of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Gainsborough was not only one of the great 18th-century British portraitists but also an accomplished and passionate landscape painter.

In the early 1780s, Gainsborough painted several imaginary shore scenes. Demonstrating the artist's fascination with 17th-century Dutch landscape painting, they are nonetheless painted in his distinctive and personal late style, with thin washes and light tones. This example, Coastal Scene with Shipping and Cattle, was copied at least three times, attesting to the popularity of the composition.