Typically, donor dinners offering a preview of new exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston are attended by 100 or so with special interests in the works on display. But it was a gathering more than half again as large that turned out for the dinner previewing The Age of Impressionism and many of those, so entranced with the 73 paintings, vowed to return for a longer look.
The exhibition, which includes works by Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., runs through March 23. The evening's consensus — it is not to be missed. More than one museum patron as well as institute director Michael Conforti commented how stunning the paintings are as displayed in the Audrey Beck Jones Building.
Hats off to MFAH director Gary Tinterow, who told the gathering that he had jumped at the chance to have the exhibition when he ran into Conforti last June at the Venice Biennale. Conforti remarked that there was a final slot open on the exhibition's international tour and Tinterow immediately booked it for Houston.
Complementing the French theme of the paintings, City Kitchen served a decidedly French menu including coq au vin and apple tarte tatin.
The invitation-only evening drew an impressive gathering that equaled in import the exhibition starting with MFAH board chairman Rich Kinder and Nancy Kinder and including exhibition funders Lisa and Downing Mears and Thomas Brown of the Hamill Foundation, lead foundation underwriter of the exhibition, plus Anne and Albert Chao, Anne and Charles Duncan, Carol and Mike Linn, Kathy and Marty Goossen, Sara and Bill Morgan, Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff, Laurie and Reed Morian, Bobbie and John Nau, Nancy and Butch Abendshein and Karol and Paul Barnhart.