Painted Palette Fine Art Studio and Gallery is a venue for learning the fundamentals of oil painting, drawing and photography. The Fine Art Gallery is open to artists of the Tri-State area to exhibit their works.
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Catch a new documentary, “James McNeill Whistler & the Case for Beauty,” premiering on PBS this Friday, September 12 at 9pm ET! Take a close look at how the 19th-century American expatriate artist pioneered a new way of thinking about art.
A controversial artist in his time, James Whistler’s “Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl” was at the center of an important late nineteenth century aesthetic debate. To mark the PBS television special, a special gallery talk by educators David Gariff and Eric Denker will argue the two sides of this debate alongside “The Woman in White”. If you’re in the DC area, join us for upcoming talks at 12pm on September 30 and October 2.
By the 1860s, the British public and critics had been conditioned by Victorian writers and artists to admire contemporary pictures for their ability to convey a narrative. Critics, including the dean of Victorian aesthetic criticism John Ruskin, stressed the importance of storytelling in painting for the educational and moral instruction of the audience. The establishment also had high regard for the smooth, enamel-like finish that characterized official painting both in England and in France.
The iconic image of “The Woman in White” had the distinction of being rejected both at the Royal Academy in London in 1862 and at the official French exhibition, the Paris Salon of 1863. It was subsequently shown at the famous Salon des Refusés in Paris in 1863 where it became, alongside Edouard Manet’s “Dejeuner sur l’herbe,” one of the most celebrated works of the realist avant-garde. Critics on both sides of the English Channel proclaimed it had underlying symbolic meaning, but Whistler always insisted it was a symphony in white, a formal exercise devoid of hidden narrative. In the late 1870s Whistler began to refer to it as “Symphony in White, #1” to stress its abstract and poetic qualities.
Whistler’s image of his Irish model and mistress, Jo Hiffernan, seemed patently anarchical to 1860s audiences. The life-size scale of the figure, previously reserved for figures of great stature and national importance, was employed here for a disheveled studio model. The restrained harmony of color and the heavily painted surface of obvious brushwork were likewise at odds with official Victorian taste.
Whistler had come of age as a painter in the long shadow of Courbet and the realist movement in art in France in the 1850s. As a realist, the young American expatriate preferred subjects drawn from contemporary life to the biblical and historical narratives admired in more conservative art circles. Beyond his choice of subject matter, Whistler asserted the independence of art from storytelling and anecdote. He approached art from a more purely aesthetic viewpoint, considering painting to be the parallel of music in its quest for harmony and balance.