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Freer | Sackler

An American in London: Whistler and the Thames

1,802 views 2 months ago
May 3-August 17, 2014
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

American artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) arrived in London in 1859 and discovered in its neighborhoods and inhabitants an inexhaustible source of aesthetic inspiration. His images of the city created over the next two decades represent one of his most successful and profound assaults on the contemporary art establishment. In the Sackler's first major Whistler exhibition, more than seventy works—paintings of famed London sites in Chelsea and along the Thames River, as well as prints and rarely seen drawings, watercolors, and pastels—present a captivating survey of the artist's unique depictions of a rapidly changing urban environment. The exhibition culminates with some of Whistler's stunning, iconic nocturnes, including "Blue and Gold—Old Battersea Bridge" (1872-77).

"An American in London: Whistler and the Thames" has been organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Exhibition support is generously provided by the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts and the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Additional support for programming is provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

"Kiyochika: Master of the Night" (Sackler, March 29-July 27, 2014), an exhibition of Meiji-period woodblock prints, resonates with the Whistler show both in style and substance. As a painter and printmaker, Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) excelled at atmospheric, moody images of Tokyo after dark—urban nocturnes that, like Whistler's images of London, adapted earlier artistic methods to reflect a new and shifting reality.

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