Don’t miss Whistler and the Thames: An American in London

Whistler and the Thames

For art fanatics who have got a trip to London planned in the coming weeks, there isn’t long left to catch an event that celebrates the work of one of the most celebrated figures in 19th century art. The era is infamous for producing a number of the discipline’s biggest icons, but in truth some of the first to come to mind – such as Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet – did not contribute to the artistic legacy of the UK.

If we take a look back at the most prestigious names in British art though, there is one impressionist who seems to resonate more than most others.Technically, James Abbott McNeill Whistler cannot be claimed as a real product of the UK, but what is generally recognised as the most successful period of his career owed itself to the landscapes of London, and in particular the River Thames. And it is just that that characterises an exhibition that has been on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery in recent weeks. It opened Whistler and the Thames: An American in London last month to showcase a host of the finest pieces produced by the pioneer.

The Massachusetts-born artist spent his early formative years in the US, but moved to Russia when he was eight when his father was relocated to work on St Petersburg’s rail network. Later in his life, it would transpire this was a move that was wholly welcomed by Whistler. When his profile began to gather pace, he would happily mislead probing interviewers into believing he had been born there. As he hit his teenage years, Whistler continued to travel and took particular pleasure in visits to see his brother-in-law, who lived in London.

It was here his passion for art exploded and after studying in Paris, he ended up spending most of his adult life in the UK. The exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery gives visitors an invaluable and all-encompassing insight into the work of an honorary Brit who set out the blueprint for modern art.Whistler and the Thames: An American in London will be on display until January 12th. Any attendees from outside the capital will find the gallery is easily reached from London hotels via the Tube.

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