Responses to J.M. Whistler's theory and practice : the followers in Britain. c.1880-1910.
This thesis examines a diverse group of artists living in Britain from 1880 to 1910, with a
particular emphasis on how they responded to the theory and practice of J. M. Whistler.
For this purpose it is necessary to first outline Whistler's own approach to his work and
how he combined a theoretical framework with a practical application. Following from
this, artists as varied as the 'London Impressionists', headed by W. Sickert, the 'Glasgow
Boys', Slade students such as W. Nicholson, W. Rothenstein, Gwen John and their
contemporaries are studied within this context.
Structurally, it is divided into four major chapters with sub-sections, an appendix of
individual biographies and illustrated plates. The first chapter focuses on Whistler's
involvement in exhibiting societies, beginning with his presidency at the Society of British
Artists, then touches on the subsequent shift of many followers to the New English Art
Club, and concludes with his later presidency at the International Society. Within these
artist-controlled societies the formation of cliques becomes apparent, each with its own
political agenda, which often centres around Whistler or his ideologies. The following two
chapters focus more specifically on the genres of landscape and portrait painting, where
Whistler's influence was most prevalent and enduring. In the final chapter Whistler's
involvement with the printmaking revival and his impact on etching, lithography, artistic
illustration and photography are each studied in turn. The concluding epilogue examines
Whistler's more recent position in British art, exploring his legacy and the significance of
his theory and practice