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Whistler, James McNeill


etching on paper

1973 Purchase

James McNeill Whistler revived interest in the fine art of printmaking. Whistler is considered the most accomplished and innovative printmaker since Rembrandt van Rijn. In his youth in Massachussetts, Whistler worked as a map engraver, often embellishing his etching plates with small sketches. It was the beginning of his work in printmaking. In 1855 he went to Paris where he encountered two influences in his work -- the Impressionist artists and Japanese prints. Whistler eventually settled in London and made it his permanent home. He was often seen walking the streets of London with an etching plate, preferring to work on site instead of in his studio. Whistler liked to capture the atmosphere of a scene. In his later etchings, such as "Hurlingham", Whistler used lines sparingly and embellished the image by selectively wiping ink from the etching plate prior to printing. He added his trademark butterfly signature, based upon the "W" of his name, in later prints.