After two exhibitions focusing primarily on work from 20th century America, Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art is preparing for a dramatic shift in both time and setting. For the Museum’s final and biggest show of the year, the Museum is taking a look back at Europe in the 17th and 18th-centuries. Magnificent Vision: Two Centuries of European Masterworks from the Speed Art Museum features more than 70 major works by the likes of Rembrandt, Rubens, Tiepolo, and Gainsborough.
The works in the exhibition are entirely drawn from the permanent collection of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY, one of this country’s premier regional art museums. Forming the backdrop to this exhibition, which is organized thematically, is a two hundred year period in which European art underwent a dramatic and radical transformation. During the 1600s, particularly in the Netherlands, a newly affluent populace with a desire to improve their standing in society helped to generate a tremendous demand for artwork—and the market for paintings boomed. In the 1700s, as the artistic profession became institutionalized, the mood shifted and the abundance and variety of the earlier period was replaced. As significant taste-making institutions like the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris gained new power—demand for paintings remained high, but became more focused.
“It is a group of paintings that not only dovetails beautifully with Philbrook’s own collection, but it also elegantly reflects one of the most extraordinary and inspiring periods in European art—it was truly a Golden Age.” Says Dr. Tanya Paul, Philbrook’s Ruth G. Hardman Curator of European Art.