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Whistler and the Etching Revival

Beginning around 1850, the medium of etching gained widespread popularity among artists and collectors, a groundswell of enthusiasm and creativity that lasted nearly one hundred years. Instead of using the medium as a means to create slavish reproductions of paintings, artists exploited the unique properties of the copper plate and etching ground to create sensitive and poetic works that highlighted the artist’s hand and touch. American expatriate James Abbott McNeill Whistler stands as the leading pioneer of the international movement that would come to be known as the Etching Revival.

Drawn from the collection of the Portland Art Museum, Whistler and the Etching Revival takes a broad look at the movement and includes French, British, and American artists who found lyrical means of expression in this medium. Early French pioneers such as Charles Meryon and Félix Buhot are featured alongside masterworks made across the Channel by Whistler and his British brother-in-law Francis Seymour Haden, together with Americans John Taylor Arms and Joseph Pennell, among others.

Organized by the Portland Art Museum and curated by Mary Weaver Chapin, Ph.D. Curator of Prints and Drawings. This exhibition is supported in part by the Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Endowment for Graphic Arts and the Exhibition Series Sponsors.
Relevant research areas: North America, Western Europe, 19th Century, Etching

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