Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Whistler at the Hunterian Art Gallery

After over 5 years here in Glasgow, I finally got round to visiting the Hunterian Art Gallery. This is a hidden gem within Glasgow University. The exhibits complement the work displayed at Kelvingrove and the Burrell collection very well. What I didn't realise was that the Hunterian contains one of the largest collections of James McNeill Whistler's work.
Whistler - Red and Black: The Fan 1891-94 (oil on canvas)
Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow

Not only are there paintings, but also letters, sketches, artists equipment and even furniture. This range of materials gives an insight into how he worked. There is a letter he wrote detailing a step-by-step guide to painting a portrait, next to portraits that he never finished, so you can visualise these individual processes. There are details on how he diluted his oil paints, to create translucent layers like watercolours.
Whistler - Grey and Silver: The Thames (oil on canvas)
Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow

There are long handled brushes that he had specially made, half used tubes of paint and his box for painting en plein air. The letters also give you a feel for Whistler's personality, how he liked to invite guests over for an elaborate breakfast and how he mixed within popular circles. The Hunterian have attempted to put this huge catalogue online, which makes a fascinating resource.
Rose et Argent: La Jolie Mutine c.1890 (oil on canvas)
Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow