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Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice [Hardcover]

Margaret F. MacDonald


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Book Description

28 April 2001
Following his bankruptcy in 1879, American artist James McNeill Whistler sought refuge in Venice, armed with a contract from the Fine Art Society for a set of 12 etchings. With his model and mistress Maud Franklin, he stayed there for 14 months. The beauty of Venice inspired some of his greatest works: atmospheric oil paintings of Venetian nights, vivid pastels and some of his finest etchings. This illustrated book discusses the whole range of Whistler's Venetian work. The views he chose ranged from quiet canals to Renaissance palaces. He found beauty in intimate scenes of ordinary life, drawing fishermen and bead-stringers at their work. His art and letters from Venice not only cast revealing light on the specific creative process that characterized his practice, but also suggest that the time spent in this city constituted a valuable turning-point in the artist's career, providing the main impetus for the next decade. The volume is a celebration of Whistler's work and an exploration of its inspiration, production and importance.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd (28 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085331800X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0853318002
  • Product Dimensions: 29 x 24.8 x 2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,198,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Etchings & Pastels to change your view of Whistler 23 Sep 2005
By David Adams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an amazingly fine book of Whistler's etchings & pastels for a very reasonable price now that it has been remaindered. To me, the absolute economy of means in his pastels is stunning. Every pastel artist should pick up this book. Just looking carefully at these little masterpieces is worth more than a whole course in pastel drawing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Good Book on Whistler 8 Mar 2013
By Frank Schmidt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm probably going to rate this book 5 Stars. I just bought my forth copy of it from this Amazon site. One I kept, two I gave to art gallery owners and the most recent one I shipped to an artist/professional photographer friend who works on an etching project with me.

JM Whistler may not have been a very likeable guy in his day (except it appears to his students/protégés, some of whom seem to have adored him) but this book shows the art talent of the man !

According to the author Whistler was at times a work-alcoholic, at times not well focused and never able to handle money. From contemporary reports he had a high opinion of himself and his work and was pretty contentious and didn't suffer critics in the least.

I very much agree with David Adams above, the pastels are a joy to view. The talent is evident. Whistler cared not at all that art critics didn't accept pastel as an investment/museum grade art medium at the time. If the author, MF MacDonald is to be believed, Whistler came at those critics with both "barrels loaded" ; and I very much believe MacDonald, she supports her claims very well with contemporarys' writings and newspaper excerpts.

It's the etchings that I was after. Whistler gives them in spades. He furthered the art in his methods, materials and his choices of previously unacceptable subject matter in that exotic city of Venice. The images he brought back to London for sale were not expected but seem to have been accepted by the buying public when displayed in the way that Whistler's marketing savvy told him to show them.

Something else that MacDonald gives us in this book that I've never seen before is comparative photographs, many. Fairly current pictures of scenes that Whistler etched or captured in pastel taken from as near as possible the same perspective as he saw them. She also shows some similar images by other artists of the same scene which Whistler portrayed and explains similarities and differences between them. Bravo to her!

I'll admit I'm biased. I'm using this book to learn artistic methods from a man I might not have liked much as a person had we lived at the same time but an extremely talented and very hard working artist nonetheless. Full of himself ......and probably for good reason. Great book !
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