The Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH) in Houston, Texas is a world-renowned institution on 10 acres of land in the Museum District of Houston. Located just minutes from Downtown Houston, it houses permanent collections, traveling exhibits, two art schools, and boasts a sculpture garden and lunch café. The art is housed in two buildings, museum quality on their own. The Caroline Weiss Law building was designed by famed architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The other, designed by award-winning architect Rafael Moneo, is the Audrey Jones Beck building. They are soon to be joined by a third building currently in the design phase which will house post-1900 art.
The exhibits and collections of MFAH are so extensive that it is really not possible to see everything in just one day therefore it is advisable to plan your trip in advance. One of the most interesting collections is the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation’s collection of Baroque and Renaissance Art. These periods, of all those we studied, most interested me. Wonderful works of art are housed in this collection, such as Madonna and Child by Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of a Lady as St. Agnes by Veronese, and The Stigmatization of Saint Francis by Orazio Gentileschi. In this collection I found an excellent example of Baroque Art, painted by Luca Giordano, Madonna and Child with Souls in Purgatory. Painted in 1665, this painting measures approximately 7’ x 5’ and is a classic example of his work and the Baroque period.
The Baroque Period
The Baroque period generally encompasses the 17th century in Europe coming after the period of Mannerism found in the Late Renaissance. Baroque was originally a derogatory term coined by critics in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, per author Nicolas Pioch, it is now commonly considered to be:
the dominant style of European art between Mannerism and Rococo. This style originated in Rome and is associated with the Catholic Counter-Reformation, its salient characteristics--overt rhetoric and dynamic movement--being well suited to expressing the self-confidence and proselytizing spirit of the reinvigorated Catholic Church. It is by no means exclusively associated with religious art, however, and aspects of the Baroque can be seen even in works that have nothing to do with emotional display--for example in the dynamic lines of certain Dutch still-life paintings.1
Although the most notable painters of this era are Italian painters Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio, other Italian painters of note during this period include Artemisia Gentileschi (daughter of Orazio), Guido Reni, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Giovanni Battista Gaulli, and Fra Andrea Pozzo. The great Spanish painters Diego Velazquez, José de Ribera, and Francisco De Zurbaran were also from the Baroque period.
James Voorhies, art historian of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, describes the characteristics of Baroque art as, “dramatic expression, emphatic naturalism, and intense chiaroscuro derived...