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Museum of Fine Arts

Experience the Royal Treasures of Jodhpur, India, Never Before Seen Beyond Palace Walls

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Pavilion (Baradari), 19th century. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Now through August 19, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is host to a trove of royal treasures from the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur, a princely state in northwest India. The unprecedented new exhibition, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India showcases the artistic legacy of the Jodhpur court across nearly four centuries.

A dazzling number of courtly and ceremonial objects fills the sprawling exhibition space, which spans five galleries and Cullinan Hall in the Caroline Wiess Law Building. Intricate arms and armor, glittering jewelry, lush textiles and furnishings, and a diverse selection of paintings converge to provide an immersive experience for museum-goers. Clever juxtapositions characterize the exhibition—more than once, viewers will find themselves admiring a jewel or dagger in a display case, only to notice the same piece depicted in a painting hanging nearby.

Maharaja Takhat Singh on a Hunt with Royal Women, c. 1853. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Peacock in the Desert is the result of five years’ collaboration between Dr. Mahrukh Tarapor, senior advisor for international initiatives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Dr. Karni Singh Jasol, director of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur; the late Martand Singh, chief consultant from the Mehrangarh Museum Trust; and Dr. Angma Dey Jhala, associate professor at Bentley University. That the team consists entirely of Indian nationals is no accident. “We wanted this exhibition to represent an Indian point of view, and it does,” affirmed MFAH director Gary Tinterow.

Tarapor credits Indian royalty, such as that of His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II, whose private collection forms the bulk of the exhibition, with helping to keep the Indian culture and artistic traditions on display at the exhibition alive. “I went to an Irish-Catholic boarding school in South India,” she explained. “I learned about the French Revolution; I learned about the Magna Carta; I learned about the American Revolution; I did not learn about India.” Peacock in the Desert, then, is an opportunity both to celebrate India’s overlooked cultural traditions, and to introduce their majesty to a brand new audience.

“We show what it was to be a member of the royal court, whether you arrived on an elephant in a howdah or whether you departed in a Rolls Royce or an airplane,” Tinterow said, referencing the immense breadth and scope of the materials on display. “From my perspective,” he adds, “this is one of the most spectacular exhibitions ever organized by any museum, anywhere.”

(Left) Throne with parasol; (Right) Page from the exhibition catalogue. Both Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
(Left) Throne with parasol; (Right) Spread from the exhibition catalogue. Both Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Peacock in the Desert is on display through August 19. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 12:15 to 7 p.m.

A special Gallery Concert at Cullinan Hall scheduled for March 15 will feature a free performance from Sitar musician Aaron Hermes. On April 6, a special late-night party celebrates the exhibition with performances by Karsh Kale, DJ Sun, and DJ Yogi-G, specialty cocktails, and Indian fusion cuisine; tickets are available online. Members of the Asian art curatorial team will lead an exclusive tour of the exhibition on May 14; tickets are $65.

Featured photo: Pavilion (Baradari), 19th century. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Masterworks by Michelangelo Coming to the MFAH

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Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

In March, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will present a stunning exhibition of Italian Renaissance art, featuring works by Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and Tintoretto. The exhibition, titled Michelangelo and the Vatican: Masterworks from the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Naples, opens on March 11.

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Your Most Glamorous Museum Visit Yet

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The Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Through January 28, immerse yourself in the splendour of one of the fashion world’s most iconic names at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s breathtaking exhibit: The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta. Curated by contributing editor to Vogue André Leon Talley, the exhibit features nearly 70 de la Renta ensembles, cleverly juxtaposed with pieces from the museum’s collection.

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The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta

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Some nights and collections are difficult to quantify in words because they are so magical. This October 7th, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston hosted an event for its members to debut the exhibit “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta.” With floor-to-ceiling florals and a runway show projected onto museum walls, one could not help but be swept away to a different place upon entering. A delightful string trio added to the luster of the evening, as did cocktails and beautiful floral light fixtures. To ensure photos were fabulous, MFAH provided several floors perfect for any posed shot or “selfie.”

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Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910–1950

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The most comprehensive compilation of Mexican modern art in the United States in 70 years has landed in Space City, bringing with it masterpieces by Frida Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and many more.

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The Stunning Rienzi House Museum

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In the heart of the historic River Oaks neighborhood, down a long, wooded drive, sits a single-story 1950s home on a 4-acre property. Rienzi was designed in 1952 by John Staub, who is considered one of Houston’s most impactful residential architects. The house was opened to the public in 1999 and serves as a museum of European decorative arts, with a collection that spans from noteworthy paintings to rare porcelain and lush furnishings.

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Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish

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Acclaimed restaurants. A fantastic economy. NASA. America’s fourth-largest city doesn’t disappoint, and its prowess doesn’t stop with its stars-reaching rockets and restaurants. Houston is also home to a world-class museum district, resplendent with 19 separate destinations, ranging from galleries to cultural centers. One of the city’s most beloved establishments is the Museum of Fine Arts. With a collection that includes antiques, decorative art, photographs, and paintings ranging from classic favorites (Renoir, Girl Reading) to modern masterpieces (Mark Rothko’s Red on Pink on Pink), it’s not surprising that the MFAH is the largest cultural institution in the southwest.

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