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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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19th June 2003 - Whister in the Press

In advance of the public opening of the Whistler Centenary Exhibition at the Hunterian Art Gallery in the University of Glasgow on Saturday 21 June 2003, the press view was held yesterday. Here's what is in the Scottish press today regarding the show.

Sarah Robertson writes in The Glasgow Herald:

"One of the world's most famous paintings arrived in Scotland yesterday for the first time in 50 years. Whistler's Mother, by American artist James McNeill Whistler, was brought from Paris amid tight security... The Hunterian Art Gallery is already the world centre for the study of Whistler after his estate was bequeathed to Glasgow University.

"Pamela Robertson, senior curator of the gallery, said Whistler was an important inspiration to many Scottish artists. She said: 'Whistler had such an affiliation to Scotland - its people and its own art. I think this exhibition is very exciting and puts Glasgow on the world's international art map. It gives us the opportunity to see the university's world-class Whistler collection in a much stronger way and it showcases the great richness of Glasgow's nineteenth-century cultural heritage.'

"Professor Sir Graeme Davies, principal of Glasgow University, said: 'The university's Whistler collection is one of Glasgow's greatest cultural treasures. I hope this exciting programme will make Whistler and Glasgow as familiar as Mackintosh and Glasgow.'... The free exhibition runs at the Hunterian Art Gallery, from June 21 to October 4."

Jim McBeth writes in The Scotsman:

"In the canon of great art, it is the image that defines the genius of James McNeill Whistler, a portrait of his mother that led the way to the 20th century for artists who followed him. In financial terms, Whistler’s Mother is worth at least £30 million. Artistically, it is beyond value and has ensured that Glasgow’s celebration of his centenary will be world class.

"For 112 years, the portrait of Anna Whistler at age 66, which is on a par with Dali’s Christ of St John on the Cross, has been in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. But until December, it will be the keynote of an exhibition of Whistler’s work in Glasgow University’s Hunterian art gallery, which owns the pre-eminent collection of his work.

"Though an American, Whistler was passionate about his Scottish roots, taken from his mother. And it was Glasgow that first recognised his genius by acquiring one of his masterpieces, a portrait of Thomas Carlyle. Whistler’s mother grew up in North Carolina, where she married an engineer, who was commissioned to build Russian railways. As an adult, Whistler returned to Europe, living in London and Paris. From 1879, he exhibited in Glasgow and Edinburgh and in 1935, his entire works were bequeathed to Glasgow University.

"Pamela Robertson, the Hunterian curator, said: 'The exhibition is world class.'"