The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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26th March 2003 - Lavery and the Internationals

Sir John Lavery was born in Belfast on this day in 1856. He trained to be an artist in Glasgow, London and Paris, and became known for his portraits, genre paintings and landscape subjects. He became a leading member of the Glasgow School, and was also an official War artist. By the mid-1880s he had established a reputation as a sophisticated modernist, and the attractive ease of his society portraits won him many admirers.

Lavery's primary association with Whistler came through being the Vice-President of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, a society formed for the promotion and exhibition of international art in London and which from 1898 had Whistler as its President. The Society planned its first exhibition for May 1898, to be held at the Princes Skating Club, Knightsbridge - this was also the venue for many of the council meetings. The private view took place on 7 and 8 May 1898, and amongst those artists whose work was on show were Auguste Rodin, Edouard Manet, Edward Atkinson Hornel, Edgas Degas, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Pietro Fragiacomo and Max Klinger. Whistler contributed a number of works to the show, including Grey and Silver: La Petite Souris.

Lavery often acted as a go-between for Whistler and the Committee of the ISSPG, and there are over 70 pieces of correspondence between the two men during the ISSPG years. It is a mark of the respect held between the artists that they remained friends for the rest of Whistler's life, and indeed Lavery was to become one of Whistler's pallbearers at his funeral in 1903.