28 May 2024

Whoa, Whistler, whatever, whenever.....

My apologies in advance for the sloppy presentation of Whistler's work. They were taken years ago from a wonderful book I have had for years entitled Whistler's Nocturnes. 

This first image, just below, is the infamous gouache that caused a scandal and a famous court case in London. The Art critic John Ruskin, in a newspaper, famously wrote, 

“....ill-educated conceit I have seen, and heard, much of cockney impudence before now; but I never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face."

Whoa... If only Trump had such linguistic flair! 

This small but stunning gouache entitled Nocturne in Black and Gold, done in 1875, was the recipient of Ruskin's ire and for which he was sued by Whistler for libel, which Whistler subsequently won.

That it was painted in the 19th century is  astounding, just about as astounding as most of Turner's watercolours in fact. 

Such abstract vision by both these 19th century artists is one of the great teasers from that century.

His love of shadows and the musky dusk of fog left a big impression upon me when I was a student of painting in sunny Provence back in the early 1970's. Like Whistler, I too, had had a more natural affinity for the Northern 'gloom-pleased light' of rain and shade, but like an unhealthy habit, it was gradually forgotten after a few years of living with radiant light. 

And following this, I thought, what the hell,.. here are some of my other favourites by Whistler, of whom one can never get enough.

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