Gifts, loans transform Texas Room

HOUSTON — Remarkable examples of rare 19th-century Texas-made furniture are now on view in the Texas Room at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, thanks to Houston collector William James Hill.

Bayou Bend is a Museum of Fine Arts Houston house that presents American decorative arts and paintings from 1620-1876 in more than 20 unique room settings. Hill’s gifts and loans raise the profile of the Texas Room at Bayou Bend, the former estate of philanthropist Miss Ima Hogg (1882-1975), who long wanted to broaden her collection with works from her native state.

The room is now furnished with ten pieces on loan from Hill’s collection and two gifts from Hill to Bayou Bend: a graceful side chair attributed to the shop of Johann Michael Jahn (1816-1883), the foremost cabinetmaker in 19th-century Texas, and a music stand that is among the earliest known Texas-made examples of the form.

Both pieces are made from black walnut and originated 1845-1860 in the area of New Braunfels, one of many communities founded in central and southeast Texas by German immigrants. Jahn, himself an immigrant, opened his cabinetmaking shop there in 1846, shortly after Texas was granted statehood.

New furniture loans on view from Hill’s collection are a foot stool, a candle stand (both attributed to the Jahn shop), a cabinet, and a center table, all from New Braunfels; a chest of drawers and a stand from central Texas; and a two-drawer work table from the Austin area. The room also features a sofa attributed to Jahn and a pair of New Braunfels side chairs, all on loan from Hill since 1994.

In addition, Hill has loaned an important Texas painting by the well-known German immigrant painter Hermann Lungwitz. The landscape, West Cave on the Pedernales (1883), shows a canyon near the low-water crossing of the Pedernales River.

For more information, call (713) 639-7750.