Local art history lecturer, Eleanor Bird, will present an afternoon discovering the work and life of 19th century artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler on Saturday September 16 at Chepstow’s Drill Hall.
Although born in America, Whistler spent most of his life in his adopted home – London. He was much ahead of his time in his experiments with limited colour palettes and a pared down approach to both landscape and portraiture, but he was also a brilliant print-maker, recording the life of London.
Finding a parallel between painting and music Whistler drew on the language of music and harmony and entitled many of his paintings arrangements, harmonies and nocturnes. His most famous painting is Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (1871), commonly known as Whistler’s Mother, the revered and oft-parodied portrait of motherhood. He was greatly influenced not only by the influx of Japanese art flooding into Europe in the second half of the 19th century, but by the innovative approach to painting of the early Impressionists.
His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger for a tail. An appropriate symbol as it combined both aspects of his personality—his art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative.
Whistler influenced the art world and the broader culture of his time with his artistic theories and his friendships with leading artists and writers.
Although the lecture stands alone, it can form a taster before Chepstow Museum’s autumn history of art series, Romanticism to Revolution – the Art of the Nineteenth Century.
Tickets £12.50 full price and £10 concessions from Chepstow Museum 01291 625981