This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast spotlights James McNeill Whistler.
On the first segment, Daniel E. Sutherland discusses his new biography of the artist, "Whistler: A Life For Art’s Sake." It is the first biography of Whistler published in twenty years, and the first to make use of Whistler’s private correspondence. “Whistler” was published by Yale University Press. The image above is of the book’s cover. Amazon offers the book for as little as $20.
Sutherland is a history professor at the University of Arkansas. His previous subjects have included the Civil War and life in post-Civil War America.
Among the topics Sutherland and host Tyler Green discuss is Whistler’s famed libel suit against John Ruskin, a trial that significantly impacted Whistler’s life. The suit was prompted by Ruskin’s reaction to the painting at the top of this post, Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (1875), now at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Whistler wasn’t the only 19thC artist fascinated by fireworks: Also pictured here is James Ensor’s Fireworks (1887) at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, and Winslow Homer’s Sailboat and Fourth of July Fireworks (1880) at the Harvard Art Museums.
On the second segment, Margaret F. MacDonald discusses the exhibition "An American in London: Whistler and the Thames." The show is on view at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery from Saturday through August 17. MacDonald co-curated “An American in London” with Patricia de Montfort. It originated at London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery. The catalogue was published by Philip Wilson Publishers.
MacDonald is a professor of art history at the University of Glasgow and the director of “James McNeill Whistler: The Etchings. A Catalogue Raisonne.” The digital catalogue raisonne is available here.