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Ruffled Feathers: Creating Whistler's Peacock Room - National Museum of Asian Art

Ruffled Feathers: Creating Whistler’s Peacock Room

A composite image bifurcated by a diagonal white line. On the left is a stylized gold peacock against a green background; on the right is a portrait of a bearded, thin-faced man against a dark background.
  • Dates

    July 13, 2024–January 31, 2027

  • Location

    Freer Gallery of Art | Gallery 11

  • Collection Area

    American Art

From the moment of its creation, the Peacock Room has been a personal, artistic, and cultural battleground. Created by artist James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) for the London home of British businessman Frederick Leyland, the room has a dramatic and complex origin story that works in the Freer Gallery of Art collection help reveal. Situated next to the Peacock Room, Ruffled Feathers offers visitors a chance to explore this room’s tangled history and the personal and global forces that shaped it through paintings, works on paper, and decorative art.

Situating audiences in London during the room’s formation between 1874 and 1876, Ruffled Feathers offers a unique opportunity to see intimate and formal portraits Whistler created of the Leyland family, chronicling the personal relationships that flourished and fractured over the course of the room’s creation. Additional paintings and examples of design from Leyland’s home help audiences understand how Whistler incorporated motifs sourced from Asia throughout his designs and rethought his own approach to art and art-making. Whistler’s relationships—with his patron, with the art market, and with the world at large—offer visitors multiple ways to consider one of Washington, DC’s, most iconic spaces and to more fully immerse themselves in Whistler’s most complete artistic interior.


Support

 

Ruffled Feathers: Creating Whistler’s Peacock Room is a project of the Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies and is made possible with support from the Lunder Foundation.

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