Key Whistler works authenticated thanks to researcher's catalogue
American-born artist, James McNeil Whistler’s etchings are now available to all, thanks to a University of Glasgow project. Artists, curators, and the general public, can now access over 5,000 images of etchings and copper plates, along with accompanying documentary records, on the University of Glasgow's Etching website. The catalogue has received over 27,000 visits each month since it launched in October 2011, and has been well received by the art community. A prominent, American artist, based in Hawaii, said the researchers ‘have made it possible to actually see the wizardry of Whistler’s lovely and living lines on the copper. I have studied his work all these years, without a true knowledge of it until now; with the website I can actually see into Whistler’s mind while he worked zooming in on the lines that are still full of life today.’
The high profile of the catalogue has resulted in lead researcher, Professor Margaret MacDonald, authenticating key Whistler works, which were previously unknown. These have been purchased through prominent auction houses, including Sotheby’s and Doyle’s. MacDonald, and her colleagues are now seen as the ‘go to’ experts on Whistler’s work and provide guided tours of the Whistler exhibitions in the Hunterian, host public lectures and answer enquiries on Whistler’s work from all over the world. The catalogue has led to many related exhibitions, such as ‘An American in London: Whistler and the Thames’ for Dulwich picture gallery, Addison Gallery of American Art, and the Freer Gallery of Art (2013-14). The exhibition was co-curated by Professor MacDonald and Dr Patricia de Montfort (University of Glasgow) with an extended version travelling to the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and the Yokohama Museum of Art, in Japan, in 2014-15.
The AHRC funded project explored Whistler’s creative processes as an etcher and printer. The evolution of each etching, from the copper plate through to the final print, is illustrated in the catalogue. The project was originally based on three major collections: the artist’s estate in the University of Glasgow, the Art institute of Chicago, and the Freer gallery of Art, in Washington DC. It has now been extended to cover prints, the print market and etchings in public and important private collections. The catalogue includes many previously unknown etchings and detailed background information about each entry. The research has received additional funding from the Chancellor's Fund, University of Glasgow, the Lunder Foundation, and other generous funders and has led to another major project, an online catalogue of Whistler’s paintings.
For more information on the project visit: James McNeill Whistler: The Etchings