Sunday, April 27, 2014

Off the Beaten Path: Whistler's Early Works on Paper

Where: Freer Gallery of Art

When: through September 28, 2014

When you enter the Freer from the Mall entrance, there's a staircase to your left in the entryway that leads down to a small exhibit space and connects to the Ripley, Sackler and African Art museums.  The small exhibit space on this lower level is where you'll find this Whistler show.  Usually, I'm off to see Asian art when I go to the Freer, but the museum also contains a nice selection of American pieces, especially pieces by Whistler, who, if my memory serves me correctly, was a friend of Freer.

These drawings and sketches were made when Whistler took a trip to the Rhineland with a friend of his, Ernest Delannoy.  They left Paris, intending to travel to Amsterdam, wandering around the French and German countryside along the way.  Wandering about can be an expensive business, and they ran out of money before they arrived at their ultimate destination, but their trip was not a total loss.  The works on display were the basis for some of Whistler's more mature works and represented his early explorations of themes to which he would return later.

Verdict: None of these drawings is terribly memorable; it's more of a show to satisfy one's cerebral interest in Whistler than one to provoke an emotional response.

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