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  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler
    Jul 10, 1834 – Jul 17, 1903
  • Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket - James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American-born, British-based artist. Averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, he was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". his work was multi-faceted. His earlier pieces were etchings, thanks to skills he picked up working as a cartographer. He painted portraits in the style of Realism, and later turned out abstracted landscapes, which he called "nocturnes." Whistler then returned to etching (drypoint) and tried his hand at lithography and interior decoration.
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Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket
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  • Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket

  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler
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  • 1875
    Oil on wood
    Detroit Institute of the Arts, United States.

    Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket is a painting of c. 1875 by James Abbott McNeill Whistler that exemplified the Art for art's sake movement – a concept formulated by Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier and Charles Baudelaire. This painting was first shown at the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1877 and is one of two works (the other being Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Firewheel) inspired by the Cremorne Gardens, a celebrated pleasure resort in London. One of his many works from his series of Nocturnes, it is the last of the London Nocturnes and is now widely acknowledged to be the high point of Whistler's middle period. Whistler's depiction of the industrial city park in The Falling Rocket includes a fireworks display in the foggy night sky. Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket is most famously known as the inception of the lawsuit between Whistler and the art critic John Ruskin.

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Other paintings by James Abbott McNeill Whistler:

A Shop
A Shop
A Shop with a Balcony
A Shop with a Balcony
An Orange Note: Sweet Shop
An Orange Note: Sweet Shop
Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac
Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac
James Abbott McNeill WhistlerJames McNeill Whistler, the painter of that most American of works--the very icon of American motherhood--"Arrangement in Grey and Black" (better known, of course, as "Whistler's Mother"), ironically left the United States at the age of twenty-one, never to return. Whistler lived as an expatriate, alternating between London and Paris depending on the local artistic climate at the time. Egotistical, abrasive, and yet extremely talented, he stands as an isolated figure in art history, never directly associated with a specific style or school of painting. As a result, Whistler's work has in modern times rarely received the attention it deserves. The exhibition "James McNeill Whistler", now ending its run at the National Gallery in Washington, attempts to remedy this inattention by displaying major works spanning his artistic career.

Although a contemporary of the Impressionists, Whistler walked his own path from the Realism of Courbet to an aesthetic approach of "Art for Art's Sake." As one of the first westerners to be influenced by the artistic tradition of Japan, Whistler developed an aesthetic response to living. The Japanese made no distinction between fine and decorative art. His appreciation of this led Whistler to a wide range of artistic pursuits. In addition to his canvasses in a wide variety of media, Whistler collaborated with the architect E.W. Godwin in the design of a house as well as furniture. His famous "Peacock Room" is a milestone in interior decoration. Before Whistler, the visitor to an art gallery would be confronted by a wall-full of paintings hung from baseboard to ceiling. Whistler pioneered the modern style of sparse galleries, involving himself intimately in the presentation of his work. He even went so far as to have the gallery attendant attired in colors that would harmonize with the paintings on display. Unfortunately, Whistler's endeavors in these areas seem to have lent an aspect of decorativeness to his oeuvre that has contributed to his diminished reputation in the public mind. The popular image of Whistler as an aesthetic Parisian "dandy" is subject to reappraisal after viewing "James McNeill Whistler".