Rare Loan Exhibition Brings to Houston the Renowned Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in November


The MFAH is the only U.S. venue for Incomparable Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which traces the arc of this radical movement through 100 masterworks curated exclusively for this presentation

HOUSTON—September 21, 2021—For the first time, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is lending some 100 of the most significant paintings and works on paper from its renowned Impressionist collection for an exhibition that will open November 14 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, its only American venue. Incomparable Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will trace the evolution of this 19th-century avant-garde movement, from its roots in the novel, naturalistic landscapes of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Charles Francois Daubigny, and other painters of the Barbizon School, to the early “optical color” experimentations in plein-air landscape painting by Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro, to the frank depictions of modern urban life by Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The exhibition highlights the artists’ relationships and their thoughts, in their own words, to underscore the philosophy behind this now world-renowned movement. The exhibition, which is currently on view at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, will be at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, November 14, 2021–March 27, 2022.

“The MFA in Boston was the first museum in the U.S. to acquire a Degas, in 1903, and early patronage by pioneering Bostonian collectors ensured the growth of its now-extensive French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist holdings,” commented Gary Tinterow, Director and Margaret Alkek Williams Chair, the MFAH. “This extraordinary collection has a distinctive capacity to narrate the history of French Impressionism with nuance, depth, and flair. We are enormously pleased to be able to share this rare selection here in Houston.”

The exhibition brings together the MFA’s 19th-century- and early-20th-century paintings, assembled in nine thematic groupings. An exhibition highlight is a breathtaking display of 16 canvases by Claude Monet, including one from the MFAH collection, painted over a 30-year period and featuring Monet’s most beloved sites. Together, these paintings demonstrate the full scope of his immeasurable contribution to the Impressionist movement.

Additional works included are Monet’s luminous Grainstack (Snow Effect), one of the artist’s famed series of 25 depictions of haystacks in varying seasons and light conditions, exhibited in May 1891 and purchased the following month by Bostonian Horatio Appleton Lamb; Degas’s empathic double portrait of his sister, Thérèse, and her husband, Edmondo Morbilli (about 1865), which remained with Degas, and then his descendants, until it was purchased by Boston collector Robert Treat Paine, 2nd; Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s life-size Dance at Bougival (1883), with its swirling evocation of modern café life; and Manet’s quintessentially urban portrait Street Singer (1862). (John Singer Sargent’s portrait of the patron who bequeathed this Manet to the MFA, Sarah Choate Sears, hangs in the American Paintings galleries of the MFAH.)

An integral aspect of the exhibition is a fascinating selection of works on paper showcasing the artists’ working processes. These prints, with concentrations of works by Pissarro, Degas, and Cassatt, illuminate the artists’ working methods and approaches to their landscapes, portraits, and interiors, as part of a collaborative publication venture. Pissarro sought technical advice from Degas for his etching and aquatint of a favored woodland view. Degas’s painting Visit to a Museum (about 1879–90), from his series depicting women, including his friend and fellow Impressionist Mary Cassatt, in museum galleries, is accompanied by three prints from that series that portray Cassatt; four etching-and-aquatint prints from Cassatt’s own series In the Opera Box (about 1880) reveal the avid experimentation of her printmaking practice. 

Incomparable Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Beck Building, Galleries 201–209
November 14, 2021–March 27, 2022
More information available at mfah.org/incomparableimpressionism

The exhibition has been curated by Katie Hanson, Curator of Paintings, Art of Europe, and Julia Welch, Assistant Curator of Paintings, Art of Europe, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The presentation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is organized by Helga Aurisch, Curator, European Art. 

Organization & Funding
This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Lead foundation underwriting is provided by:

Lead Corporate Sponsor:

Major support is provided by:
Anne and Charles Duncan

Additional generous support is provided by:
1661 Tanglewood
Melza and Ted Barr
Polly and Murry Bowden
Linnet F. Deily
Samuel F. Gorman
Cecily E. Horton
Ann G. Trammell 
Jeanie Kilroy Wilson 
Mr. and Mrs. Rodney H. Margolis
The Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Endowment for Exhibitions
Jonathan Blackwood and Dean Maddalena
Bettie Cartwright 
Rosanette S. Cullen
Joyce Z. Greenberg
Francita Stuart Koelsch Ulmer in memory of Frances Wells Stuart

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Established in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States, with an encyclopedic collection of nearly 70,000 works dating from antiquity to the present. The Museum’s Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim main campus comprises the Audrey Jones Beck Building, designed by Rafael Moneo and opened in 2000; the Caroline Wiess Law Building, originally designed by William Ward Watkin, with extensions by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe completed in 1958 and 1974; the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, designed by Isamu Noguchi and opened in 1986; the Glassell School of Art, designed by Steven Holl Architects and opened in 2018; The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, designed by Deborah Nevins & Associates and opened in 2018; and the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, also by Steven Holl Architects, opened in 2020 Additional spaces include a repertory cinema, two libraries, public archives, and facilities for conservation and storage. Nearby, two house museums—Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Rienzi—present American and European decorative arts. The MFAH is also home to the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), a leading research institute for 20th-century Latin American and Latino art. mfah.org 

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Founded on February 4, 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), stands on the historic homelands of the Massachusett people, a site which has long served as a place of meeting and exchange among different nations. The Museum opened its doors to the public on July 4, 1876—the nation’s centennial—at its original location in Copley Square. In 1909, the MFA moved to its current home on Huntington Avenue and today, the Museum houses a global collection encompassing nearly 500,000 works of art, from ancient to contemporary. For nearly 50 years, the MFA has shared its deep collections and curatorial expertise with audiences around the world through traveling exhibitions. mfa.org

Media Contact
Melanie Fahey, Senior Publicist
713.800.5345 | mfahey@mfah.org