The News Line Saturday October 19 2013 PAGE 7
AN AMERICAN IN LONDON - Whistler and the Thames
BY A GUEST REVIEWER
An American In London: Whistler and the Thames
Dulwlch Picture Gallery
College Road, London SE21
16 October 2013-12 January 2014
Tickets: 11 UK Pounds plus concessions
AN American in London: Whistler and the Thames at DuIwich Picture Gallery is the first major exhibition dedicated to American-born artist James McNeill Whistler's time in the capital between 1859 and 1903.
Showcasing Whistlers scenes of London the exhibition Includes paintings. etchings and drawings produced during the artist's various residences.
It presents over 70 objects to provide a fascinating visual Investigation Into Whistler's depiction of the Thames and Victorian London during a transitional period In the expatriate artist's creative development.
The exhibition features 15 of Whistler's paintings of Chelsea and the River Thames. along with 35 prints,
ten rarely-seen drawings, watercolours and pastels, and will culminate In several of his famous Nocturnes, including Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (1872/1873). one of the artist's most critically acclaimed and widely-known paintings of Battersea Bridge, and a study of Black and Gold:
The Fire Wheel (1893).
Further exhibition highlights include earlier works such as Brown and Silver: Old Battersea Bridge. (1859-1863) and Battersea Beach from Lindsey Houses (c. 1864).
A man about town, referred to by some as a 'dandy', Whistler led a colourful life in London and his work raised controversy with John Ruskin in 1877 accusing him of 'flinging a pot of paint in the public's face'.
Whistler subsequently sued Ruskin, winning pitiful damages but a moral victory against the critic.
Whistler spent much of the later years of his life in the capital where he died in 1903 and was buried in St Nicholas's Church cemetery, Chiswick.
This exhibition also features portraits of Whistler and his patrons, bringing to life the personalities involved In this prolific period In the artist's career.
Portraits including The Artist's Studio (1865) and Symphony in White No. 2: The Little White Girl (1864), as well as a lesser-known self-portrait etching Whistler with a Hat (1859). will be on display.
The exhibition Is complemented by historical photographs hung throughout the exhibition which help to place Whistler's work Into the social context of the Chelsea neighbourhood where he lived and worked, whilst bringing to life the stories behind some of the famous works.
Fourteen etchings from the series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes of the Thames (1871) are on display, including Rotherhithe (1860), an etching closely related to Wapping (1860-64), the innovative oil painting of the same year which features Whistler's mistress 'Jo', which Is also in the show.
The exhibition Is co-curated by Professor Margaret F MacDonald, Honorary Professorial Research Fellow and Dr Patricia de Montfort, Lecturer, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow.
Professor MacDonald was co-curator of Tate's major 1994 exhibition: 'James McNeil Whistler'.
She says: '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.
'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 such important paintings as Wapping which we are very fortunate to have from the National Gallery in Washington, and in later, misty and mysterious depictions of the foggy Thames side such as Variations In Pink and Grey from the Musée d'Orsay.
A catalogue accompanies the exhibition written by Margaret F MacDonald and Patricia de Montfort, published by Philip Wilson Publishers. It presents the definitive examples of Whistler's radical new aesthetic approach to the time-honoured subject of the city and river.