european treasures

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston showcases rare and never-before-seen European art

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston showcases never-before-seen European art

MFAH European exhibit Portrait of Henri III, King of France by Jean de Court
Portrait of Henri III, King of France by Jean de Court. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
MFAH European exhibit Spanish processional cross
A Spanish processional cross. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
MFAH European exhibit Mexico City biombo
A biombo depicting Mexico City. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
MFAH European exhibit Portrait of Henri III, King of France by Jean de Court
MFAH European exhibit Spanish processional cross
MFAH European exhibit Mexico City biombo

Local fans and connoisseurs of European art can now enjoy a vast collection that spans from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has unveiled a showcase of works — including pieces from Central and South America — that feature paintings, tapestries, sculpture, liturgical objects, and antiquities across 500 years over 11 reinstalled galleries.

Visitors can expect more than 200 works that highlight specific areas of  achievement in early modern Europe and the Viceroyalty of New Spain, including 16th- century Netherlands and Venice, 17th-century Spain, and its colonies in Central and South America, per a press release.

Three galleries trace the relationship of Spain in the 17th and 18th centuries and the nation’s relationship with its burgeoning colonies.

Highlights include some recent acquisitions and never-before-seen pieces, such as:

  • A portrait miniature of Henri III, King of France, by renowned 16th-century court  artist Jean de Court. It is believed to be the only artwork still in existence bearing de court’s signature.
  • A rare, 18th-century Mexican folding screen — called a biombo — that dates back to the early 17th century style and depicts cosmopolitan Mexico City.

Notably, the exhibition boasts a newly discovered and never-before-seen in the U.S. Florentine Renaissance glazed-terracotta tondo (a round relief) by Andrea della Robbia entitled The Madonna in Adoration of the Christ Child Surrounded by Angels, with God the Father (1470-75).


Yet another exceptionally rare Florentine Renaissance painted-terracotta bust of Christ (circa 1480-83) by Andrea del Verrocchio, the sculptor and mentor of Leonardo da Vinci.

Having acquired important works over the past several years, the MFAH has “rethought the display of our European collections to more fully express the history, culture and faith in which these works were originally created and experienced,” MFAH director Gary Tinterow noted in a statement.