Curator’s Choice: Top Drawings From the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

In the latest issue of Drawing magazine we visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) as part of our “Curator’s Choice” series. Dena M. Woodall, the associate curator of prints and drawings at the MFAH, selected more than a dozen drawings and other works on paper that are among her favorites in the collection.

She chose works by artists including Odilon Redon, Charles Burchfield, and Edward Hopper. Here, we’re happy to include a few more of Woodall’s selections. To read the full article, order a copy of winter Drawing or download a copy here, and be sure to subscribe to Drawing.

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Jean-Baptiste Greuze: Reclining Female Nude

Drawings - Jean Baptiste Greuze - Reclining Female Nude

Reclining Female Nude: Study for “Aegina Visited by Jupiter,” by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, ca. 1767, red chalk on laid paper, 12 5/8 x 19 1/2. Museum purchase funded by the Alvin S. Romansky Prints and Drawings Accessions Endowment Fund. All artwork this article collection Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Houston, Texas.

“Greuze [1725–1805] is normally known for genre pictures, but here he’s trying to embrace a mythological subject, showing Aegina visited by Jupiter,” Woodall explains. “It’s a study for a painting in The Met, and the drawing focuses on the figure. It looks back to classical statuary, reminding you of images like the Vatican Ariadne. This drawing is all in red chalk, and it seems so quick a study. The red chalk flows so easily with no erasing.”

Edgar Degas: Woman Drying Herself

Drawings - Edgar Degas - Woman Drying Herself

Woman Drying Herself, by Edgar Degas. ca. 1905, charcoal and pastel on tracing paper mounted on wove paper, 31 x 31. The Robert Lee Blaffer Memorial Collection, gift of Sarah Campbell Blaffer.

“I love this drawing for how it mixes charcoal and pastel,” Woodall says. “For me it really caputres a particular moment of time, as Degas [1834–1917] watches this woman drying herself.”

John Singer Sargent: The Model

Drawings - John Singer Sargent - The Model

The Model, by John Singer Sargent, ca. 1878–1879, watercolor over graphite on wove paper, 11 5/8 x 9. Gift of Miss Ima Hogg.

“What can you say about Sargent’s [1856–1925] watercolors?” Woodall asks. “The MFAH acquired this one in 1939 from Miss Ima Hogg, one of our early patrons. For me it’s just a beautiful drawing, the way he’s captured the figure and approached it with watercolor.”

Paul Klee: Marjamshausen

Drawings - Paul Klee - Marjamshausen

Marjamshausen, by Paul Klee, 1928, watercolor, 16 3/ 8 x 12 6/16. Gift of Miss Ima Hogg.

This Paul Klee [1879–1940] watercolor was also an early acquisition for the museum given by Miss Hogg. “She loved to store drawings in her desk and pull them out and look at them,” Woodall says. “This was done when Klee was in North Africa. He’s looking at the landscape and cityscape there and capturing the light. You see these building blocks of color. It has that Klee whimsy, but if you look closely there are grimacing faces looking back at you.”

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