Symphony in Grey and Green: The Ocean (1866).

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Symphony in Grey and Green: The Ocean (1866).


Nocturne in Black and Gold

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Nocturne in Black and Gold

Portraits, Pastels and Prints: Whistler in the Frick

The Frick Collection's ensemble of four full-length portraits by Whistler will be displayed in the museum’s Oval Room alongside his evocative seascape, Symphony in Grey and Green: The Ocean (1866)

June 2, 2009, through August 23, 2009

Having left the United States as a young man in order to pursue his artistic ambitions in Europe, Whistler spent most of his life in London, where his reputation for dandyism rivaled that of Oscar Wilde. As one of the chief proponents of Aestheticism, he sought the harmonious synthesis of art’s formal and representational qualities. He was influenced by Baudelaire’s notion of the correspondence between music and painting and often likened his works to musical compositions, entitling them Symphony, Harmony, or Nocturne. With his avant-garde approach to painting, Whistler deliberately provoked more traditional members of London’s art world. In 1877, the critic John Ruskin ridiculed the artist’s nearly abstract Nocturne in Black and Gold, accusing him of “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.”

Whistler worked as a portraitist throughout his career, securing commissions from members of the aristocratic and bohemian circles of London and Paris. His portrait of the actress Lady Meux (front page), whose scandalous marriage to a wealthy baronet made her notorious, captures all her sensual flair. Titled Harmony in Pink and Grey: Portrait of Lady Meux (1881–82), the painting is as much an exploration of color and texture as it is a perceptive likeness. Whistler’s mature portraiture is well represented at the Frick by four canvases from the last three decades of his life. He was also a master printmaker and traveled to Venice to complete a commission from the Fine Arts Society for twelve etchings, which came to be known as the First Venice Set. Whistler took a unique approach to the subject of Venice. Choosing to represent the city and its inhabitants in quiet moments glimpsed from narrow canals and second-story windows, he departed from the tradition of “vedute,” views of popular tourist spots such as San Marco and the Grand Canal. Frick purchased the full set of twelve, and they will be presented in the Cabinet, along with three plein-air pastels, which provide a colorful counterpoint to the etchings.


Share |
All Rights Reserved

RSS Feeds | Site Map | About Us | Manifesto | Contact | Terms of Use | Art Links | © theartwolf.com