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Rienzi Presents Society Portraits and Innovative Drawings by Leading 18th-Century British Artist George Romney

Visions of Fancy: George Romney, 18th-Century Paintings and Drawings
Exhibition opens October 14 at MFAH house museum for European decorative arts

Houston—September 2012—George Romney was one of the leading artists of late-18th-century England. He worked among an elite circle of British painters, including Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose patrons comprised London’s fashionable society. Rienzi, the MFAH house museum for European decorative arts and paintings, showcases Romney’s work in Visions of Fancy: George Romney, 18th-Century Paintings and Drawings. The exhibition opens October 14, 2012, and runs through January 20, 2013.

Romney (1734–1802) established his career as a society portrait painter with a style of elegance and informality that won him a prestigious client list. Although he was best known for gorgeous oil paintings, his sketches and drawings reveal the hand of a powerful, sensitive and innovative draftsman. Alongside examples of portraits, Visions of Fancy features a rare bound sketchbook showing figures in spontaneous motion on each page.

Rienzi is the former home of Houston philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III. “Due to Mr. Masterson’s interest in George Romney, Rienzi has significant holdings of this important artist’s work,” said Christine Gervais, associate curator for Rienzi. “It made sense to do an exhibition that gathered the drawings, small portraits and large oil paintings together to highlight this complex and varied artist for Rienzi’s audience.”

Romney’s work will be integrated throughout Rienzi, with the works on paper installed in a small gallery within the house. The highlight of that gallery is Romney’s 1783 sketchbook, which has never been on view at Rienzi. Guests will be able to explore Romney’s imaginative musings by paging through a newly digitized copy of the book.

Tours of Visions of Fancy: George Romney, 18th-Century Paintings and Drawings are available at Rienzi Wednesday through Sunday. Call for schedules and reservations.

About Rienzi
Rienzi is the house museum for European decorative arts and paintings of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The beautiful estate is situated on four acres of wooded gardens, about three miles from downtown Houston in the historic River Oaks neighborhood. Formerly the home of philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, Rienzi was designed by prominent Houston architect John Staub in 1952. Opened to the public in 1999, Rienzi houses a substantial collection of European decorative arts, paintings, furnishings, porcelain and miniatures. Rienzi welcomes some 17,000 visitors throughout the year for tours, family programs, lectures, concerts and special events.

Rienzi is located at 1406 Kirby Drive. Free parking is available. For more information, visit and online, or call 713.639.7800.

Hours & Admission
To schedule an exhibition tour of Visions of Fancy: George Romney, 18th-Century Paintings and Drawings, call 713.639.7800.

Rienzi is open Wednesday through Sunday.
Wednesday–Saturday: Tours of Rienzi at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
$4 for MFAH members; $6 for nonmembers; $4 for senior adults and students with ID.
Reservations recommended, drop-ins welcome.
Sunday: Drop-in tours of Rienzi from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission 4 p.m.)
$5 for individuals; $10 for groups of 2 to 4; $15 for groups of 5 or 6.

Media Contact
MFAH Communications