Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA Boston) will be lending Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) premiere selections from their collection of Impressionists works for Houston’s exhibition “Incomparable Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,” slated to open on November 14th. Highlights include paintings and works on paper by Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
MFA Boston houses the largest collection of Impressionist works outside of France. In the late 1800s, as Parisian critics turned up their noses to the art movement, Bostonians were avid collectors of it. The saturation of Impressionist work in the city would eventually trickle down to the MFA Boston, which was gifted three Monet’s in 1906 alone. This seed would start what is now one of the largest collections of Monet’s work, with 35 paintings and works on paper.
Of the 100 works to be loaned to MFAH, 15 of them are by Monet, including notable works such as Camille Monet and a Child in the Artist’s Garden in Argenteuil (1875) and The Water Lily Pond (1900). In 2004, these paintings were at the center of controversy when MFA Boston lent these works, among others, for the “Claude Monet: Masterworks from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston” exhibition at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Los Vegas. Critics accused MFA Boston of not lending out these works but rather renting them, as MFA Boston expected to receive a cut of the admission profits, with a speculated total of about $1 million in revenue. While MFA Boston is one of the few entirely privately funded museums in the United States, the institution does receive tax breaks. As some pointed out, the public effectively subsidized this lucrative Las Vegas deal. Others also pointed to a possible violation of the U.S. Association of Art Museum Directors’ guidelines for loaning work. For this forthcoming exhibition, critics can rest easy knowing that this loan was made in good taste.