Canadian River

Artist: Oscar Brousse Jacobson

Oscar Jacobson painted this landscape in 1953, the year before he stepped down as director of the University of Oklahoma’s School of Art. Later in the 1950s, Jacobson was involved in a unique effort to bring art into people’s homes. For a time, the Oklahoma Art Center included a “lending gallery” that allowed customers to rent paintings for a few months, then either return or purchase them. Rental prices started at $1 per month, on a 1/50 scale based on the purchase price, i.e. a $50 painting would rent for $1, a $100 painting for $2 and so on. After three months, the renter was obligated to return or purchase the painting. If the customer decided they wanted to buy, their rental payments applied to the purchase price. The lending gallery was established by Nan Sheets, see page 129. Articles about the lending gallery tout the “Oklahoma scapes” of Jacobson among the popular paintings rented from the gallery.

The subject of this particular “Oklahoma scape” is the Canadian River. From the mound-building Native Americans of the Mississippian period, who relied on its water for their agriculture, to the seventeenth century Spanish explorers who followed the waterway, through the mapmakers of today, the Canadian River has played a significant role in the area now known as Oklahoma. Following the discovery of gold in California, the Canadian River became a route used by many seeking their fortune. An estimated 20,000 passed through the area in 1849 on their journey west.