1406 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77019
10:00 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013
Rienzi Center for European Decorative Arts, MFAH presents Rienzi Begins: Architect John F. Staub and the Mastersons, on view from October 12, 2013 to January 31, 2014.Rienzi is widely recognized for its substantial collection of European decorative arts and paintings, but less is known about the residence itself—the home of Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, designed by one of Houston’s leading architects, John F. Staub.In the spring of 1952, Harris Masterson III sketched his ideal family home, a symmetrical one-story residence with classical ornament on the front and a cantilevered Modernist glass and steel façade on the back. The Mastersons engaged Staub, a legendary Houston architect, to bring these sketches to fruition. The result is a rare example of mid-century Modernism and European classicism combined with a theatricality that speaks to the character and spirit of the family that lived there.The thoughtful collaboration between the architect and his clients is evident in Rienzi Begins: Architect John F. Staub and the Mastersons.Using original documents and photographs from the archives of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Rice University’s Woodson Research Center at Fondren Library, the exhibition traces the genesis of this Houston estate from the Mastersons’ purchasing the land in 1951, to sketches and early acquisitions of furniture and art for its interiors, to its completion in 1953.As part of the exhibition, an original bathroom, designed by Staub for Mrs. Masterson’s teenage daughter, will be on public view for the first time. Lined in Norwegian Rose marble, the 1950s bathroom features a sunken bathtub and a crystal chandelier, and opens to a poolside terrace.Rienzi Begins: Architect John F. Staub and the Mastersons is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The exhibition was co-curated by Katherine Howe, director of Rienzi, and Caroline Cole, curatorial assistant.Pictured: Rienzi Living Room, c. 1957. Photograph courtesy of Isla Reckling; Masterson Family Papers, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Archives.