Art Abstracts: Thomas Gilbert White

Art Abstracts

With over 17,000 objects in the museum’s permanent collection, there are many amazing works that visitors rarely get to see. Take a peek into the vaults and off the walls each Monday with a new Art Abstract!


Pro Patria, Studies for the Oklahoma State Capitol Mural

head of WWI soldier (central panel)

IMAGE CREDIT | Thomas Gilbert White, U.S. 1877-1939 | Pro Patria, Studies for the OK. State Capitol mural: head of WWI Soldier (central panel), 1928 | Charcoal on paper | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the University of Oklahoma, Norman; Museum purchase, 1962

soldier on horseback and hands (central panel)

IMAGE CREDIT | Thomas Gilbert White, U.S. 1877-1939 | Pro Patria, Studies for the OK. State Capitol mural: soldier on horseback and hands, central panel, 1928 | Charcoal on paper | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the University of Oklahoma, Norman; Museum purchase, 1962

mounted WWI soldier left panel

IMAGE CREDIT | Thomas Gilbert White, U.S. 1877-1939 | Pro Patria, Studies for the OK. State Capitol mural: mounted WWI soldier, left panel, n.d. | Charcoal | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, The University of Oklahoma, Norman; Museum purchase, 1962

WWI soldiers left panels

IMAGE CREDIT | Thomas Gilbert White, U.S. 1877-1939 | Pro Patria, Studies for the OK. State Capitol mural: WWI soldiers, left panels, 1928 | Charcoal | Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, The University of Oklahoma, Norman; Museum purchase, 1962

Pro Patria is a series of oil painting murals that line the walls of the state of Oklahoma’s capitol building. The works above were studies created by artist Thomas Gilbert White in preparation for his final works. Commissioned by Bartlesville oilman Frank Philips in 1925, the works are intended to commemorate the tragedies and triumphs of World War I. The mural’s right and left panels serve to honor fallen soldiers, while the central panel represents the courage and sacrifice of a “brave soldier answering his country’s call to war” (arts.ok.gov).

When the work was dedicated by Governor Henry S. Johnston and Lt. Governor William J. Holloway on Armistice Day in 1928, the artist announced his hope that, “through these canvases, may the muffled voices from the grave speak to the generations to come of a day when men were not too proud to fight and held life less than their country’s honor.”

White was a world-renowned mural painter from Grand Rapids, Michigan who studied at Columbia University. He spent the majority of his career studying art in Paris, France, with renowned artists like Jean Paul Laurens, Benjamin Constant, and James McNeil Whistler. During World War I, White became a decorated member of the United States Army Reserves.

Related…

A Tribute to America’s Combat Artists and Fighting Forces: Art From the U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard is currently on display at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee, Oklahoma, curated by our longtime friend and University of Oklahoma David Ross Boyd Professor of Art History, Victor Koshkin-Youritzin. This is an unprecedented opportunity to see art collected over the years by several branches of the military in one location.  The artwork was created by military artists and some civilians, and all have military subjects, depicting wartime and peacetime activities.

Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Hart Benton, and Howard Chandler Christy are just three of the 26 artists featured in this exhibit of 54 paintings and drawings.  The entire exhibit encompasses more than 200 years of art starting with the Quasi-War (1798–1800) and continuing to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art is a Blue Star Museum and provides free admission to all active duty U.S. military and their families from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Veterans and their families can also visit the museum free during the run of this exhibit with a valid ID.

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