The exhibition held in the Musée d'Orsay displayed a series of portraits, full-size such as the famous Artist's Mother or Théodore Duret (who supported the impressionists and who was to write Whistler's biography), a portrait treated like a juxtaposition of colours resulting from long sittings. The other side of his art is landscape painting, with a preference for the juxtaposition of water and sky effects, especially with the river Thames in London. He proves to be a master of poetical allusion in his paintings, pastels and engravings.
In 1877, in an exhibition in the London Grosvenor Gallery, the famous art critic Ruskin judged imprudent the artist's asking two hundred guineas for a landscape, The Falling Rocket, which he compared to “ a pot of paint thrown at the public's face ”.While the impressionists were merely misunderstood in France, Whistler was actively ridiculed by the British public, with the exception of a few amateurs. Recognition would only come at the end of his life, especially from the American public: many loans come from American public collections.
CuratorsNicolai Cikovsky, Jr, curator of French and American paintings, National Gallery of Art (Washington), Richard Dorment, writer and critic, Geneviève Lacambre, general curator, Musée d'Orsay and Margaret F. McDonald, researcher, Whistler study centre in the Glasgow University
Exhibition catalogueJames McNeill Whistler
Tate Gallery Publications