The Eyes

The Eyes

Friday, May 2, 2014

Whistler at the Freer-Sackler Galleries | Washington, DC

American industrialist Charles Freer met James McNeill Whistler in 1890 when, on his first trip to London, he paid a call at the artist's Chelsea studio and initiated a long and fruitful friendship. With Whistler's encouragement and cooperation, Freer built the most important collection of his works in the world, including the Peacock Room,* which is now a part of the Freer Gallery of Art.** An American in London: Whistler and the Thames will be at the Sackler Gallery of Art,** May 3 - August 17, 2014.

In the Gallery’s first major Whistler exhibition, more than seventy works—paintings of famed London sites in Chelsea and along the Thames River, as well as prints and rarely seen drawings, watercolors, and pastels—present a captivating survey of the artist’s unique depictions of a rapidly changing urban environment. The exhibition culminates with some of Whistler’s stunning, iconic nocturnes, including Blue and Gold—Old Battersea Bridge (1872–77).

The Peacock Room
Freer Gallery of Art | Washington, DC

Blue and Gold—Old Battersea Bridge | (1872–77)
Oil on Canvas | 26 7/8 in. x 20 1/8 in.
Tate Gallery | London

The Peacock Room is open during museum hours, but once a month it is shown in a whole new light. When the shutters of Whistler’s “harmony in blue and gold” are open, a flood of natural light turns the Peacock Room into a glowing jewel of blue, green, and gold tones. Details, colors, and textures are revealed in the sunlight—and a special filtering film on the windows minimizes fading.

** The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery form the Smithsonian Institution's national museums of Asian art. The Freer and Sackler galleries house the largest Asian art research library in the United States and contain art from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Islamic world, the ancient Near East, and ancient Egypt, as well as a significant collection of American art.

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