Whistler: Influences, Friends and the Not-So-Friendly at the Toledo Museum of Art

. February 12, 2010

TOLEDO, OHIO–A new exhibition of prints from the Toledo Museum of Art’s collection spotlights the work of iconic American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903).

Although perhaps more popularly known today as a painter, Whistler was a master of the etched line. “Whistler: Influences, Friends and the Not-So-Friendly”, on view Feb. 26 through May 30, 2010 in the Museum’s Works on Paper Galleries, provides a comparison of the great American artist with his contemporaries as well as a look at what influenced his work.

WhistlerJames Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903) “Limehouse”, 1859. Etching, 1912.1195

As a printmaker, Whistler’s name is often linked with Rembrandt’s as the artist who, 200 years later, further explored and refined the beauty of the etched line. The artist spent most of his life in London, and was greatly influenced by that city as well as by Paris. He proved to be an innovative, master craftsman with few peers, then or now.

Tom Loeffler, the Museum’s assistant curator of works on paper, says Whistler himself never drew a distinction between his efforts as a painter and his work as a printmaker.

“His entire life was an involved mixture of art, entertainment, sharp wit, impetuous temper, dandyism, imagined offenses, egoism and self-doubt, calculation and genius,” Loeffler says. “It is hard to present his etchings and lithographs without considering his paintings and complex personality.”

Whistler etched, rather than painted, when his finances were in trouble because he was more successful in selling his etchings, Loeffler notes. “One reason we have his Venice prints is because he needed to raise money and he stayed in Venice longer than he originally intended to work,” Loeffler says.

The skilled craftsman also was “a master of the gentle art of making enemies.” To fully understand Whistler’s work, the viewer must consider the impact of the people–both friends and those he alienated–around him. This new exhibition of approximately 120 works enables us to do just that.

Along with more than 60 prints by Whistler, the Toledo exhibition will feature works by Henri Fantin-Latour (French, 1836-1904), Sir Francis Seymour Haden (British, 1818-1910), Charles Émile Jacque (French, 1813-1894), Alphonse Legros (French, 1837-1911), Charles Meryon (French, 1821-1868) and Joseph Pennell (American, 1860-1926).

The Whistler exhibition is made possible with the support of Museum members and the Ohio Arts Council’s sustainable grant program that encourages economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

The Toledo Museum of Art Museum is located at 2445 Monroe Street at Scottwood Avenue, just west of the downtown business district and one block off I-75
with exit designations posted.

For general information, visitors can call 419-255-8000 or 800-644-6862, or visit www.toledomuseum.org

Category: Museum News

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