Society / The Seen

Elite Society Gathers at a Stunning River Oaks Manse for Storied Tradition

Air Kisses and Art

BY // 02.02.17
photography Jenny Antill Clifton

You simply can’t ask for a lovelier, more genteel evening than that of the annual Rienzi Society Dinner. For seventeen years, the elite society members have gathered in the grand River Oaks home that philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson bequeathed to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

And for each of those years, patrons devoted to the John Staub-designed house and its collection of European decorative arts and paintings have ponied up serious dollars to be used in the purchase of much-desired works, voted on by the assembled guests from a selection presented by Rienzi curators. On this evening, chaired by Melissa and Doug Schnitzer and Mary Eliza and Park Shaper, members cast their ballots for the Terrestrial Globe (circa 1790) by William Cary, depicting the known world at the end of the 18th century.

As is tradition, guests including Christiana and Luke McConn III, Pat Breen and Rose Cullen mingled over cocktails as they perused the curated offerings on display throughout the Palladian-style home. Rienzi director Christine Gervais and MFAH director Gary Tinterow served as ex officio hosts for the gathering of 90.

After many air kisses and much socializing, the heady group including Lisa and Ralph Eads and Courtney and Mark Elias moved to the celebrated ballroom where Swift + Company orchestrated the dinner. Adding a special note to the evening was the fact that it was the birthday of Isla Reckling, daughter of the late Carroll Sterling Masterson.

Joining the elegant party were Carroll Goodman, Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff, Ann Trammell, Jeanie Kilroy Wilson and Wally Wilson, Tommy Reckling, Angie and John Reckling, Rosslyn and Marshall Crawford, Randa McConn, Nancy Allen, Christiana Reckling, James Reckling, Judy and Charles Tate and Susie and Skip McGee.

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