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Freer & Whistler: Points of Contact

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Freer Gallery of Art

The juxtaposition of Asian and American art at the Freer Gallery is due largely to the influence of the expatriate American artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), who played an important role in the aesthetic education of Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), the Detroit industrialist and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art.

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James McNeill Whistler

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The Peacock Room
Sweet Silent Thought

This two-room exhibition of some 23 oil paintings represents a choice selection of the more than 1,300 paintings, prints, and drawings by Whistler in the Freer Gallery of Art. The works on view were chosen to exemplify both Freer's philosophy of collecting and Whistler's own self-conscious synthesis of western and Asian artistic traditions.

Highlights include a sequence of views of the Thames from Whistler's Chelsea residence; an ensemble of Nocturnes (Whistler's term for his paintings of the moonlit urban landscape), and a pair of full-length portraits, including the magnificent "Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F.R. Leyland," which depicts the patron of the renowned Peacock Room, now permanently on view in the Freer Gallery, adjacent to this exhibition.