Tulsa Philbrook museum exhibits Rembrandt to Monet: 500 years of European painting

This new exhibit showcases artists such as Rembrandt, Titian, El Greco, Bouguereau, Renoir and Monet.

The Tulsa Philbrook museum is currently exhibiting Rembrandt to Monet: 500 years of European painting from the Joslyn Art Museum. The exhibit began Feb. 22 and will be available for viewing until May 28. The artists highlighted include such masters as Rembrandt, Titian, El Greco, Bouguereau, Renoir and Monet.

As you enter the exhibit, the room opens to a winding hall lined with pieces, each unique but thematic to the European style the exhibit highlights. The first thing that catches your eye is the lavishness of color the paintings share. The larger paintings that call for the observer to step away and take the whole image in are paired with seating placed in an ideal location for viewing.

The paintings are rich with detail. They draw you in and flow easily into one another as you walk along and stop at each one. Despite its tendency to have a crowd, the nature of the set up separates the exhibit into sections which helps give it a more intimate feel.

Both Renaissance and Baroque art are highlighted in the exhibition. “Portrait of a Man of the Cornaro Family with a Falcon” by Titian is a stunning representation of Renaissance period art. The lighting is dark, focusing itself on the main figure’s face and hand where he holds his falcon. The most incredible part is the visibility of the brushstrokes characteristic of the painterly style used in art of the period. Despite its age, the paint still shines and has a wet appearance. As you shift your gaze, the brushstrokes catch the light and reveal themselves to you, giving a stunning effect and insight into the artist’s process.

“Still Life of Flowers in a Glass” by Maria van Oosterwyck represents the Baroque period. The array of colors chosen by Oosterwyck are showcased by the dramatic spotlight-like lighting characteristic of the era. The background is nearly devoid of light which creates marked contrast. The piece is also full of vanitas which symbolize death. The flowers toward the sides of the painting are beginning to wilt while being kissed by butterflies. At the bottom of the painting, there are seashells lining the table that holds the vase of flowers. Each of these represent the dwindling of life: the flowers literally dying while the butterflies’ short life span symbolizes the fleeting nature of life, and the seashells represent the greed of those who live as they were very valuable in the day.

Dr. Maria Maurer’s art history class was able to visit this exhibit. As a member of that group, I felt seeing the paintings in person helped me better understand the significance and details of each piece. As a viewer there is nothing akin to being able to actually experience the artist’s brushstrokes, use of color and attention to detail. Each piece represents a different aspect of art and history in Europe during both the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Once you have entered the center area of the exhibit, you are sure to be lured in by one of the largest, and my favorite, pieces. “The Weeders” by Jules Breton is beautifully imposing. On the warmly lit landscape female figures pull weeds at dawn. The figures appear alive through their poses that imply movement as the sun casts them in shadow. As you watch the sun set you also see a sliver of the moon, giving the piece an interesting symmetry in composition. It is a beautiful piece that holds the viewer’s interest and is easily observed for an extended period. In front of this piece is one of the seating where you can observe it along with other patrons who are enticed by its lovely nature.

I can not recommend this exhibit enough. I have no doubt there is something for everyone, and if you are a lover of art in the Oklahoma area this is an absolute must see.

Post Author: Aurora Stewart