18th Century France in Houston
Houston, TX.- The nation of France, and its capital city of Paris in particular, held a special status in European culture during the 18th century. The upper echelons of societies throughout Europe were predominantly Francophiles— imitating French fashions of dress and furniture in their daily lives. Now savvy Texan members of the Art Kabinett collectors network can get a bourgeoise experience right in their back yard. On view at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston until December 11th, "Paris: Life & Luxury" re-imagines, through art and material culture, the complex and nuanced lifestyle of elite 18th century Parisians who made their city the fashionable and cultural epicenter of Europe. Inspired by the Getty Museum’s extensive French decorative arts collection and the correspondingly strong holdings of French illustrated books in the Getty Research Institute, Paris: Life & Luxury provides a rich cultural and historical experience that closely mirrors daily life in 18th century France. Bringing together approximately 160 objects, roughly half of which will be on loan from twenty-six museums and private collections around the world, the exhibition will include a wide range of paintings, sculpture, applied arts, drawings, metalwork, furniture, architectural fittings, lighting and hearth fixtures, scientific and musical instruments, clocks and watches, textiles and dress, books, and maps. Following a structure based on the traditional visual allegories of the Four Times of Day, the objects in the exhibition are grouped according to their associations with common activities as pursued in the chronology of a single day, from morning to night. As such, objects of diverse mediums are juxtaposed, as they would have been within an 18th century Parisian domestic setting, regardless of modern museological or academic categories. Through constellations of art and related artifacts, the exhibition follows the conventional activities in the cycle of a Parisian day, such as dressing, writing, collecting, eating, and evening entertainment—allowing visitors to envision the activities and accessories of quotidian life, in order to find resonances with their own daily lives. The exhibition begins in the morning with the bedroom, then moves to daily correspondence and business affairs. The activity of collecting—particularly art—is explored in a section that evokes a private Parisian galerie. Tapestries, silver, and still-lifes consider elements of dining, and the next section focuses on two types of leisure occupations: music-making and game-playing. Life & Luxury closes with nighttime and the importance of private prayer. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) is one of the largest museums in the United States.The permanent collection of the museum spans more than 6,000 years of history with more than 62,000 works from six continents. The museum benefits the Houston community through programs, publications and media presentations. Each year, 1.25 million people benefit from museum's programs, workshops and resource centers. Of that total, more than 500,000 people participate in the community outreach programs. The MFAH's permanent collection totals 63,718 pieces in 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2) of exhibition space, placing it among the larger art museums in the United States. The museum's collections and programs are housed in seven facilities. The Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) is the oldest art museum in Texas. In 1917, the museum site was dedicated by the Houston Public School Art League (later the Houston Art League) with the intention of becoming a public art museum. The first museum building – opened to the public in 1924 – represented the determination of Houstonians to transform their growing city into a rich cultural center. Trustees and staff dedicated the small art collection to the community and defined the function of the museum as bringing “art into the everyday life” of all Houstonians.