Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

Jacksonville, Florida



James McNeill Whistler Etchings & Lithographs at The Cummer


Fifty etchings and thirty-one lithographs by the renowned nineteenth-century American artist, James McNeill Whistler, were on exhibition at The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens from through December 13, 1998. This extraordinary exhibition, Whistler: Impressions of an American Abroad, Etchings and Lithographs from the Carnegie Museum of Art, included works of art that represent the artist's entire range of graphic expression.

"Whistler is a great follow-up to Rembrandt," said Dr. Kahren J. Arbitman, director of The Cummer. "Together they represent the world's two finest etchers."

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Whistler spent most of his adult life in Europe. When he arrived in Paris in 1853, the revival of etchings as a medium for artistic creativity was just beginning. Whistler may have been attracted to etching as a result of this renewed interest of the technique among his peers. While the unglorified, descriptive portrayal of the ordinary person or place was Whistler's goal, the subjects he would become known for - the humble figure framed in a doorway, the obscure landscape, or the effect o flight on a subject - makes its first appearance in his early works.

The exhibition represented a visual tour of several major western European cities as seen through the American expatriate's eyes. It included Whistler's acclaimed "French Set" of 1858, which depicts Parisian genre; the "Thames Set" detailing scenes of everyday life and ordinary people along London's famed river; as well as Whistler's most inspiring and influential works, the "Venice Set", which magically reveals the city of light and water captured on Whistler's etching plates.

From top to bottom: The Draped Figure, Seated, 1893, Transfer lithograph with stumping on laid Japan paper, signed in pencil with the butterfly - inscribed by Whistler, "No. 2" - inscribed in letterpress, "T. WAY, IMP. LONDON," published in L'Estampe Originale, Album 4 (Paris, October-December, 1893), 8 3/4 6 3/4 inches; Black Lion Wharf, 1859, etching printed in black ink on laid paper, from the Thames Set, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches; Maud Standing, c. 1873, etching and drypoint printed in black-brown ink on laid paper, 9 x 5 15/16 inches; Nocturne, 1879-80, etching and drypoint printed in black-brown ink on laid paper, from the First Venice Set, 7 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches; Nocturne The River at Battersea, 1878, lithotint with scraping, printed in black ink on Japan paper, mounted on wove paper, 6 3/8 x 10 1/8 inches; Rotherhithe, 1860, etching and drypoint printed in black ink on laid paper, from the Thames Set, 11 x 7 7/8 inches

Text and images courtesy of The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.

Read more about the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 8/24/10

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