James McNeill Whistler: The Etchings

James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) was a major figure in 19th century printmaking and created 490 etchings. Over 9500 impressions of these prints have been located and investigated during the project, which completes a series of catalogues raisonnés of Whistler's oeuvre.

Catalogue entry for the etching 'La Mère Gérard'
Catalogue entry for the etching 'La Mère Gérard'

This project explores the creative processes of the American-born artist, James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), as an etcher and printer. A major figure in 19th century printmaking, he created 490 etchings. The evolution of each etching from the copper plate through different states to the final print is investigated, and illustrated. Some etchings were completed at one sitting, others went through twenty states before the artist was satisfied. Over 9500 impressions of these prints have been located and investigated during our research.

Whistler was trained as a topographical draughtsman, and his etchings were drawn with precise and expressive line and printed with great technical skill. Some that are included in this catalogue are unfinished and some are vivid sketches, while others are carefully developed and highly finished. There is a wide range of subjects and sitters, and of subtle atmospheric effects as well as dramatic and complex compositions. Some etchings are recorded here for the first time and a wide range of new information on the known etchings casts fresh light on the art of Whistler and the art-world of the 19th century.

The Whistler Etchings Project is based in the University of Glasgow. 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, Washington, DC. It has been extended to cover prints and the print market, and etchings in public and important private collections. It completes the series of catalogues raisonnés of Whistler's oeuvre published under the auspices of the University of Glasgow and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Project website: https://etchings.arts.gla.ac.uk/


Main contact: Margaret F. MacDonald

Developers: Graeme CannonLuca Guariento

Start year: 2005

Funded by: AHRC

Subject areas: History of ArtInformation Studies

Keywords: ArtDigital CatalogueDigitisation

Record last updated 2020-01-29