Whistler and Glasgow
James McNeill Whistler was a central figure in the development of European and American art in the nineteenth century. He won wide acclaim for his graphic work from an early age; in painting, he rejected sentiment and anecdote for an emphasis on design and harmonious studies in tone and colour. His controversial position kept him at the forefront of public attention throughout his career, especially after his libel case against Ruskin in 1878. He was President of the Royal Society of British Artists and the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers. Working principally in England and France, he was awarded many international honours and had followers throughout Europe, North America and Australia.
Whistler's connections with Scotland are numerous. They include the purchase in 1891 by the Corporation of Glasgow of his portrait of Thomas Carlyle (the first of his works to enter a public collection) and the honorary degree awarded to him by the University of Glasgow shortly before his death in 1903.
Whistler Collections in Glasgow
The University owns one of the most comprehensive resources available for research on Whistler. One of the two major public collections of his work is housed within the Hunterian Art Gallery. Included in the collection are nearly 1,000 works in all media, and personal effects such as furniture, silver and china. An on-line catalogue of the Hunterian collection named INCA is currently under construction.
Some 7500 of Whistler's letters and papers, together with his own publications and a specialised reference collection of over 1,800 volumes, are preserved in the Department of Special Collections. These resources are supplemented by copies of Whistler letters in other collections world-wide which are held in the editorial office.
The Gallery and the Library have, in addition, substantial collections of art and archival material for the study of other artists during Whistler's lifetime and into the twentieth century. The Gallery's collections are particularly strong in the work of Francis Seymour Haden, Alphonse Legros, Mortimer Menpes, Walter Sickert, Muirhead Bone and D.Y. Cameron. In the Library, the papers of Harold Wright, D.S. MacColl, James Laver, James McBey and Denys Sutton cover much of British art from the period 1850 to 1960, with a special focus on British etchers, the development of national collections and movements between 1880 and 1939.
Books, photographs and archival material in Glasgow University Library
Whistler Collection via SCD catalogue of MSS
- books via Glasgow University Library on-line catalogue
- Whistler library
- books on Whistler
- exhibition catalogues
- sale catalogues
Art Collections at Hunterian Art Gallery