A show on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., at the University of Oklahoma, offers us a superb selection of works by well-known and less well-known French artists.
The “Vernet to Villon: Nineteenth Century French Master Drawings from the National Gallery of Art” exhibit is on view at The University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave.
Containing 30 drawings and watercolors, the show marks the first time the National Gallery has lent a complete exhibition to an institution in the state of Oklahoma.
The exhibit was co-curated by the National Gallery’s Margaret Morgan Grastelli and OU’s Victor Koshkin-Youritzin.
Paris spreads out before us and artist Carle Vernet, shown depicting it at his easel, in a well-rendered watercolor and graphite work, called a “View of Paris from the Terrace of the Pavillon de Brimborion.”
Equally engaging is a watercolor (with graphite) of “Evening Light on a Wooded Lakeside with Cattle Drinking” by Henri-Joseph Harpignies.
Very appealing, too, is a watercolor of “Sun-Drenched Hills Near Menton” by Jules Ferdinand Jacquemart that is almost as brilliant and airy as its title.
More atmospheric and moody is a watercolor of a boat under a bridge at “The Pont d’Alma at Twilight” by Luigi Aloys Francois Joseph Loir, who was called the “painter par excellence of Paris.”
“A Windmill against a Cloudy Sky” becomes the focal point of an oil painting over black chalk by Constant Troyon.
In another work, a charcoal-gouache, of “Bathers by a Giant Oak,” Troyon does a good job of contrasting the pale bodies of his two female subjects with their brown surroundings.
The mild-featured “Profile of a Young Woman” emerges from the darkness, almost magically, in a conte crayon drawing by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer which is one of the show’s best figurative works.
Jacques Villon captures the allure of the Belle Epoque in a 1900 ink and watercolor over graphite study of “Two Elegant Ladies, One Lighting a Cigarette,” both wearing long, fashionable dresses.