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The Gentle Art: Friends and Strangers in Whistler’s Prints

The first of a two-part survey of the Fitzwilliam’s collection of etchings, drypoints and lithographs by the American artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). This first part concentrates on prints that feature people, ranging from the figures emerging from the shadows in his early ‘French set’ of the 1850s, through intimate domestic scenes of friends and fellow artists in London, such as Seymour Haden and his family, to the late lithographs of nudes and portraits of his sister-in-law ‘Bunnie’, made in the 1890s. Whistler’s relationships with a number of friends, such as Haden, quickly soured as they became the victims of his sharp wit. On such occasions his butterfly signature acquired a barbed tail to match the sting of his wit, as immortalised in his collection of letters and pamphlets, ‘The Gentle Art of Making Enemies’, which is displayed in the exhibition.

The second part of the exhibition (Palaces of the Night: The urban landscape in Whistler’s prints) will take place in autumn 2008.


Handlist: Exhibition handlist

Tue 4 September 2007 to Sun 13 January 2008
Charrington Print Room (Gallery 16)
Free Admission