From the Addison’s website:
In the 1860s and 1870s, James Abbott McNeill Whistler immersed himself in the life of Victorian London, with a particular focus on the bustling neighborhood surrounding Battersea Bridge, including the workers and women who frequented the Thames-side wharves and pubs, the barges that navigated the perilous passage under the bridges, and the steamboats and wherries crowded with daytrippers that paddled up and down Battersea Reach. This exhibition brings together numerous paintings, prints, and drawings from this pivotal period in Whistler’s career, providing a detailed examination of his approach to composition, subject, and technique.
(That’s Brown and Silver: Old Battersea Bridge above.)
The hard looking staff has always had a soft spot for Whistler, who’s either a minor major artist or a major minor artist. Either way, he was a highly innovative painter, one of the greatest etchers in the history of Western art, and a world-class eccentric. (See I, James McNeill Whistler: A Novel by Lawrence Williams for the fabulous details.)
That mastery of etching is evident throughout the exhibit, as Black Lion Wharf attests.
There are also some landmark paintings in the exhibit, including the notorious Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, which not only got the magisterially demented critic John Ruskin all lathered up (“I have seen, and heard, much of cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.”), it also got him sued by Whistler (with disastrous effects for the artist: The jury found in his favor but awarded him only one farthing, leaving Whistler insulted and broke).
The work itself:
The exhibit (through April 13) is just as impressive.
P.S. If you want more Whistlerania, check out Whistler’s Battles in the Nation, and A Story of the Beautiful in the Wall Street Journal. Both are reviews of Daniel E. Sutherland’s new biography, Whistler.