The first major exhibition dedicated to Whistler and his time living and working in London is presented by Dulwich Picture Gallery.
An American in London: Whistler and the Thames at England’s first purpose-built art gallery, Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London, will detail the Massachusetts-born painter’s experience of London life through the works he made while he was there between 1859 and 1903.
James Abbot McNeil Whistler created scenes of Victorian London in a variety of mediums including painting, etching and drawings. As well as works depicting the Thames and Chelsea, where Whistler had a studio – on Tite Street – there is also an impressive handful of self-portraits and portraits of his patrons and mistress, Jo.
Teamed with paintings of his studio and photographs taken around Chelsea, these images tell the story of what life was like for the artist in London, during the later half of the 19th century.
The are a few works with Battersea Bridge as the primary subject matter including of the most famous of Whistler’s paintings, Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge (1872/1873).
“Whistler settled in London in 1859 and his etchings and paintings mark one of his most successful and profound assaults on the art establishment of his day,” says the exhibition’s co-curator Professor Margaret F. MacDonald.
“Whistler’s superb draughtsmanship is seen in etchings such as Black Lion Wharf and a fascinating series of working proofs of a view of the Pool of London. His sympathetic, straightforward depictions of workers and the dockyard environment of Dickensian London such as The Lime-burner and the rare Ratcliffe Highway are fresh and insightful. His sense of colour and expressive brushwork is strikingly demonstrated in mysterious depictions of the foggy Thames side such as Variations in Pink and Grey from the Musée d’Orsay.”
For lovers of Whistler, London – or both – this superb insight into the magical, artistic city life of yesteryear is not to be missed.
An American in London: Whistler and the Thames will be at DPG from 16 October 2013 – 12 January 2014.
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