To the Manor Born


The treasures of the great London estate Kenwood House (remodeled in the 18th century by Robert Adam) have arrived at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It%26rsquo;s an embarrassment of riches: 48 masterpieces culled by Guinness brewery kingpin Edward Cecil Guinness, aka 1st Earl of Iveagh, and acquired during the late 19th century in a fierce collecting contest between the earl and American gilded-age tycoons with names such as Frick, Rothschild and Morgan. It%26rsquo;s the first transatlantic crossing for most of these canvases, and they begin their American tour in Houston while Kenwood gets a redux. This is really two shows in one. The magnificent action begins with iconic Dutch and Flemish canvases, including van Dyck%26rsquo;s 1634 portrait of Princess Henrietta of Lorraine and Rembrandt%26rsquo;s sublime self-portrait, circa 1665, presenting the artist with his palette and brushes (this celebrated Rembrandt stopped at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its own show before coming to the MFAH). Then in the next room, some of the greatest hits of British Grand Manner portraiture make an unforgettable entrance. Starring 18th-century femmes captured by Gainsborough, Romney and Reynolds in fashionable splendor %26mdash; from their frocks%26rsquo; diaphanous lacy embellishments to the latest in up-dos and millinery %26mdash; they bring together both regal noblewomen and racy types who rocked polite society, such as Emma Hart, paramour of Admiral Nelson, and bewitching courtesan Kitty Fisher. %26ldquo;Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures%26nbsp; of Kenwood House, London,%26rdquo; through September 3, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Beck Building, 713.639.7300; mfah.org.

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IMAGE: Thomas Gainsborough%26rsquo;s Mary, Countess Howe, circa 1764, at MFAH. Photo collection Kenwood House, English Heritage; Courtesy American Federation of Arts

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To the Manor Born


The treasures of the great London estate Kenwood House (remodeled in the 18th century by Robert Adam) have arrived at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It%26rsquo;s an embarrassment of riches: 48 masterpieces culled by Guinness brewery kingpin Edward Cecil Guinness, aka 1st Earl of Iveagh, and acquired during the late 19th century in a fierce collecting contest between the earl and American gilded-age tycoons with names such as Frick, Rothschild and Morgan. It%26rsquo;s the first transatlantic crossing for most of these canvases, and they begin their American tour in Houston while Kenwood gets a redux. This is really two shows in one. The magnificent action begins with iconic Dutch and Flemish canvases, including van Dyck%26rsquo;s 1634 portrait of Princess Henrietta of Lorraine and Rembrandt%26rsquo;s sublime self-portrait, circa 1665, presenting the artist with his palette and brushes (this celebrated Rembrandt stopped at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its own show before coming to the MFAH). Then in the next room, some of the greatest hits of British Grand Manner portraiture make an unforgettable entrance. Starring 18th-century femmes captured by Gainsborough, Romney and Reynolds in fashionable splendor %26mdash; from their frocks%26rsquo; diaphanous lacy embellishments to the latest in up-dos and millinery %26mdash; they bring together both regal noblewomen and racy types who rocked polite society, such as Emma Hart, paramour of Admiral Nelson, and bewitching courtesan Kitty Fisher. %26ldquo;Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures%26nbsp; of Kenwood House, London,%26rdquo; through September 3, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Beck Building, 713.639.7300; mfah.org.

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IMAGE: Thomas Gainsborough%26rsquo;s Mary, Countess Howe, circa 1764, at MFAH. Photo collection Kenwood House, English Heritage; Courtesy American Federation of Arts

Comments are closed.

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