Back to All Events

Last Day of An American in Venice | James McNeill Whistler and His Legacy

This is the last day to view An American in Venice | James McNeill Whistler and His Legacy.

James McNeill Whistler (American, 1843–1903) is best known as an inventive modern American painter. By the 1870s, he was widely acknowledged to be the most innovative printmaker since Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669).

A spirited artist living abroad in London, England, Whistler courted controversy throughout his career alienating friends and patrons with his combative, eccentric personality. He also lived beyond his means, declaring bankruptcy in May 1879 after mounting a costly, albeit successful, legal defense of his artistic reputation at trial against the eminent art critic John Ruskin who publicly criticized the legitimacy of Whistler’s audacity, style, and artistic technique.

By September of 1879, the Fine Art Society commissioned Whistler to execute twelve etchings of Venice, Italy. This fabled city along the Adriatic with its beautiful architecture, picturesque canals, and exotic history inspired generations of artists. Whistler however, avoided Venice’s notable landmarks and familiar topography, focusing instead on the “Venice of the Venetians.” He captured obscure buildings, decaying palazzos, shadowy doorways, and the city’s more elusive back canals.

Although Whistler was scheduled to stay for only a few months, he remained in Venice until November 1880, and returned to London with over fifty extraordinary etchings.

Organized by the Syracuse University Art Collection

Learn more about this exhibition.