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About This Artwork
Nocturne: Blue and Gold--Southampton Water, 1872
Oil on canvas
50.5 x 76 cm (19 7/8 x 29 15/16 in.)
Signed lower right: (butterfly monogram)
Stickney Fund, 1900.52
In the early 1870s, James McNeill Whistler took another radical step towards abstraction with his series of Nocturnes. In keeping with his art-for-art's-sake creed, these works capture the stillness of evening while evoking the pure artistry of music. Unlike his earlier marine paintings, which remain intelligible despite their reductive nature, the subject of this work—an inlet along the English Channel near Southampton—is obscured by the approaching night. Large shipping vessels appear as ghostly shapes, reduced to shadowy forms by the deepening twilight, while the only points of brightness come from the subtle reflections of man-made lights and the fragmented orb of the moon. The setting thus serves primarily as a vehicle for Whistler's interest in the tonal harmonies of darkness.
London, The Grosvenor Gallery, no. 106, 1882.
London, Goupil Gallery, Nocturnes, Marines & Chevalet Pieces, March-April 1892, no. 30.
Philadelphia, The Academy of Fine Arts, Late 1900 to about March 1, 1901.
Boston, Copley Hall, Oil Paintings, Watercolors, Pastels, and Drawings. Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Mr. J. McNeill Whistler, February 1904, no. 58.
London, The New Gallery, Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the Late James McNeill Whistler, February 22-April 15, 1905, no. 9.
Paris, Palais de L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Exposition des Oeuvres de James McNeill Whistler, May 1905, no. 67.
Cincinnati Art Museum, Seventeenth Annual Exhibition of American Art, May 21-July 20, 1910, no. 210.
Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture Lent from American Collections, June 1-November 1, 1933, no. 489.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Landscape Paintings, May 14-September 30, 1934, no. 76.
Art Institute of Chicago, Summer Exhibitions, July 20-October 29, 1939, no. 4.
Art Gallery of Toronto, Loan Exhibition of Great Paintings in Aid of Allied Merchant Seamen, February 5-March 5, 1944, no. 90.
New York, The William MacBeth Inc., Whistler Exhibition, April 17-May 14, 1947, no. 15.
Art Institute of Chicago, Cassatt, Sargent, and Whistler, January 14-February 25, 1954, no. 116; traveled to New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, March 25-May 23.
Peoria, Illinois, Lakeview Center for the Arts and Sciences, Two Hundred Years of American Painting, 1965, no catalogue numbers or page numbers but reproduced in black and white.
Art Institute of Chicago, James McNeill Whistler, January 13, 1968-February 25, 1968, Frederick A. Sweet, no. 20, p. 68; traveled to Utica, N.Y., Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, March 17, 1968-April 28, 1968.
Berlin, Nationalgalerie Staatliche Museen Preussicher Kulturbesitz, James McNeil Whistler (1834-1903), 1969, no. 31, p. 77.
Albi, France, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Trésors Impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, June 27-August 31, 1980, Jean Devoisins, no. 59.
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, In Pursuit of Beauty, Americans and the Aesthetic Movement, October 23, 1986-January 11, 1987, Doreen Bolger Burke, et al., fig. 9.20, ill. p. 333.
Nagaoka, Japan, Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Masterworks of Modern Art from the Art Institute of Chicago, April 20-May 29, 1994; traveled to Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, June 10-July 24; Yokohama Museum of Art, August 6-September 25, 1994.
London, Tate Gallery, James McNeill Whistler, October 13, 1994-January 8, 1995, Richard Dorment and Margaret F. MacDonald, cat. no. 48, ill. p. 125; traveled to Paris, Musée d’Orsay, February 6-April 30, 1995; Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, May 28-August 20, 1995.
"Songs on Stone: James McNeill Whistler and the Art of Lithography" THe Art Institute of Chicago 6/6/98-8/30/98; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa 10/2/98-1/3/99
Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris "Proust" November 9, 1999-February 2, 2000.
Atlanta, High Museum of Art, After Whistler: The Artist and His Influence on American Painting, November 22, 2003-February 8, 2004, p. 106, ill.; Detroit Institute of Arts, March 13-June 6, 2004.
Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Turner Whistler Monet: Impressionist Visions, June 12-September 12, 2004, Katherine Lochnan, no. 44, ill.; traveled to Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, October 12, 2004-January 17, 2005; London, Tate Britain, February 10-May 15, 2005.
Elisabeth L. Cary, The Works of James McNeill Whistler: A Study with a Tentative List of the Artist’s Works, New York, 1907, no. 58, p. 165.
Bernhard Sickert, Whistler (London: Duckworth & Co., New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., n.d.), no. 77. p. 145, ill. p. 161.
Joseph and Elizabeth R. Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols. (London & Philadelphia, 1908), Vol. I, p. 167, Vol. II, ill. facing p. 108
Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, 3, 1910, p. 34.
James W. Lane, Whistler, New York, 1942, ill. p. 112.
Life Magazine, 36, May 17, 1954, pp. 9-95, ill.
Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago, 1961), p. 483.
Denys Sutton, James McNeill Whistler: Paintings, Etchings, Pastels, and Watercolors (London: Phaidon Press, 1966), p. 192, pl. 83.
Donald Holden, Whistler Landscapes and Seascapes (New York, 1969), pp. 34-35, ill. p. 35, pl. 7.
Michael Edward Shapiro and Peter H. Hassrick, Frederic Remington, the Masterworks (Abrams, 1988), fig. 22, p. 49, ill.
Milo M. Naeve, “The Edwardian Era and Patrons of American Art at The Art Institute of Chicago: The Birth of a Tradition,” America’s International Exposition of Fine Arts and Antiques (Chicago: The Lakeside Group, 1988), fig. 2, p. 22, ill.
Tom Armstrong, “The New Field-McCormick Galleries in the Art Institute of Chicago, Magazine Antiques 134, 4 (October 1988), pp. 822-835, discussed p. 834, pl. XII p. 830.
Judith A. Barter et al, The Age of American Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2011), no. 13.
Alfred Chapman, London, England, by 1892. H. Wunderlich and Co., New York, by 1900; sold to the Art Institute, 1900.
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