Born in Waxahachie, Texas, Sarah Campbell Blaffer (1885–1975) spent her youth in Lampasas and Houston. On her wedding trip to Paris in 1909, a visit to the Louvre museum transformed her life. She became a connoisseur and avid collector at a time when few people in Texas shared her understanding of and love for art.
Blaffer's philanthropies were largely devoted to encouraging a similar appreciation among her fellow citizens, and she was inspired to take the beauty of great works of art to communities located far away from major museums. "It is an experience I want everyone to share: poor, rich, townfolk, and country," she said. In 1964, she established the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, and in 1971 the trustees decided to focus more of the foundation's resources on acquiring works of art that would be exhibited to people throughout Texas in a “museum without walls.”
The art collection of the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation is a testament to the generosity and vision of Sarah Campbell Blaffer. The foundation maintains and continues to develop a collection of Renaissance and Baroque art for the benefit of the people of Texas. Through permanent exhibition at the MFAH, and temporary exhibitions at institutions elsewhere in Texas and beyond, as well as through this website, the foundation seeks to fulfill Blaffer's desire to share her love of art.
The Blaffer Foundation collection contains paintings, works on paper, and decorative arts. Special attention has been given to creating comprehensive collections that reveal the breadth of subject matter and style in a given period or region. Until 2000, the foundation had never had its own permanent exhibition space, but now the finest works in its collection occupy five galleries in the Beck Building at the MFAH.
Some 200 European Old Master paintings range predominantly from the 16th through early 19th century, and a small collection of 20th-century paintings includes examples by Edvard Munch and Lyonel Feininger.
Works on Paper
The print collection consists of more than 400 woodcuts, engravings, etchings, lithographs, and aquatints, by masters from Albrecht Dürer to Théodore Géricault, with particular strengths in the works of William Hogarth and Francisco de Goya. A small collection of British watercolors and a selection of rare books are also maintained.
Decorative Arts Objects
The focus of the Blaffer Foundation's collection of decorative arts is the Cabinet of Curiosities, a type of collection popular among the educated and elite in the 16th and 17th centuries. Such cabinets included intriguing and exotic objects chosen for their rarity, intricacy, and artifice. Manmade objects were combined with natural wonders to create an awe-inspiring microcosm.
Welcome to the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation.
An important part of the SCBF's mission is to share the works of art in its collection as widely and with as much depth as possible. Through this website, you can browse images of the works and read scholarly information about them. If you have comments about the website or any of the artworks, we would be happy to hear from you. Please scroll down for our contact information. More than half the paintings in the collection are on view at the MFAH in the Beck Building and are accessible to the public with museum admission. Whether you come to see the collection in Houston or view it online, we hope you enjoy your visit. —James Clifton, Director, Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation
The Blaffer Foundation maintains an active exhibition schedule. Individual objects have been loaned to exhibitions throughout the United States as well as Japan, England, Germany, and France. In keeping with the primary mission of sharing artworks with the people of Texas, the Foundation also organizes thematic exhibitions drawn from the permanent collection. Some of these exhibitions are presented at the MFAH, and many tour museums in Texas and beyond.
The Blaffer Foundation welcomes your comments about the artworks in the collection and the information on this website.
P.O. Box 6826
Houston, TX 77265-6826