Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket

James Abbott McNeill Whistler American, 1834 - 1903

On View

in

Modern, Level 2, Central Wing

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About the Artwork

This work, which is a depiction of a fireworks display in London’s Cremorne Gardens, is probably Whistler’s most infamous painting. It was the central issue of a libel suit that involved the art critic John Ruskin and the artist. Ruskin had publicly slandered the work by making the statement, “I have seen, and heard, much of cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.” Whistler won the libel suit; however, he was awarded only the token damages of one farthing. This is one of Whistler’s many “Nocturnes,” which are characterized by a moody atmosphere, a subtle palette, and overall tonalist qualities.

Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket

1875

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

1834 - 1903

American

Unknown

Oil on panel

Unframed: 23 3/4 × 18 3/8 inches (60.3 × 46.7 cm) Framed: 36 3/4 × 30 1/4 × 3 1/4 inches (93.3 × 76.8 × 8.3 cm)

Paintings

American Art before 1950

Gift of Dexter M. Ferry, Jr.

46.309

Copyright not assessed, please contact [email protected].

Markings

------

Provenance

the artist

1892-1940, Samuel Untermyer (New York, New York, USA)

May 10, 1940, Untermyer family's sale, Parke-Bernet, lot 29 (New York, New York, USA). Charles Sessler, Knoedler (New York, New York, USA). 1946, Scott and Fowles (New York, New York, USA)

1946-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

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Exhibition History

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Published References

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel. 1875.

Stephans. 1875, p. 581.

Wilde, Oscar. "The Grosvenor Gallery." Dublin University Magazine 90 (July 1877): p. 124.

Lostalot. 1883, p. 80.

Ruskin, John. Fors Clavigera. 1877, p. 124. [note: journal produced by Ruskin himself; see Cook, E. T. and A. Wedderburn, eds. The Works of John Ruskin, 39 vols. London, 1903-12.]

Huysmans, Jorris-Karl. Certains. Paris, 1889, p. 67.

Notes, Harmonies, Nocturnes. Exh. cat., Wunderlich and Co. New York, 1889, no. 55.

Whistler, James A. McNeil. The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. London, 1892, pp. 3-15, 304-305. [reprint New York: Dover, 1967]

Whistler Retrospective Exhibition. Exh. cat., Goupil Gallery. London, 1892, no. 10.

MacColl, Dugald Sutherland. 1893, p. 90.

Eddy, Arthur Jerome. Recollections and Impressions of James A. McNeill Whistler. Philadelphia, 1903, p. 140.

Alexandre, Arsene. 1903, pp. 22, 25 (ill.).

Duret, Theodore. Histoire de James McNeill Whistler et Souvenure. Paris, 1904, p. 65.

Whistler Memorial Exhibtion. Exh. cat., Copley Hall. Boston, 1904, no. 64.

Whistler Memorial Exhibition. Exh. cat., New Gallery. London, 1905, no. 5.

Exposition des Ouvres de James McNeill Whistler. Exh. cat., Musee Nationale du Luxembourg. Paris, 1905, no. 66.

Benedite, Leonce. "Whistler." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 47 (1905): pp. 151-158 (ill.).

Pennell, Elizabeth Robins and Joseph Pennell. The Life of James McNeill Whistler, Vol. 1. London, 1908, p. 232. [reprints 1911 and 1922]

Paintings in Oils and Pastels by James McNeill Whistler. Exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1910, no. 12.

Cary, Elizabeth Luther. The Works of James McNeill Whistler. New York, 1913, pp. 64-65, 166, no. 164.

Pennell, Elizabeth Robins and Joseph Pennell. The Whistler Journal. Philadelphia, 1921, p. 4.

American Magazine of Art 12, 1 (January 1921): p. 4.

Pousette-Dart, Nathaniel J. James McNeill Whistler. New York, 1924.

Laver, James. Whistler. New York, 1930.

Newsweek. May 20, 1940.

"New Directions." Time Magazine. February 10, 1947, p. 42.

Richardson, E. P. "Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket.” The Art Quarterly 10, 1 (Winter 1947): p. 3.

______________. "Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket." Bulletin of the DIA 26, 3 (1946-47): pp. 72-74. [excerpt of Richardson's Winter 1947 ART QUARTERLY article]

Gallatin, A. E. "Whistler." Art News 46, 3 (May 1947): p. 18.

Whistler Loan Exhibition. Exh. cat., Macbeth Gallery. New York, 1947, no. 16.

Exhibition of James McNeill Whistler. Exh. cat., Lyman Allyn Museum. New London, CT., 1949, no. 15.

19th Century Painting and Sculpture. Exh. cat., Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, 1951.

Richardson, E. P. "Painting in America: The Historian's Problem." American Art Quarterly 14 (Winter 1951): p. 330 (fig. 3).

Landmarks in American Art, 1670-1950. Exh. cat., Wildenstein Gallery. New York, 1953, no. 27.

Sargent, Whistler and Mary Cassatt. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1954, no. 105 (ill.).

Hoopes, Donelson F. "American Impressionism." Portfolio 3, 1 (1954): p. 54 (col. ill.).

International Masterpieces. Exh. cat., Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts. Columbus, 1956.

Whistler. Exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain. London, 1960, no. 33.

Apollo 72, 427 (September 1960): p. 61 (ill.).

Gilman, R. "Americans Abroad." American Heritage 12 (October 1961): p. 20, no. 6.

Sutton, Denys. "Nocturne: The Art of James McNeill Whistler." Country Life (1963): p. 95, no. 4.

________. James McNeill Whistler: Paintings, Etchings, Pastels & Watercolours. London, 1966, p. 191 (pl. 70, ill.).

Novak, Barbara. American Painting of the Nineteenth Century. New York, 1969, p. 255 (ill.).

Holden, Donald. Whistler Landscapes and Seascapes. New York, 1969, pp. 38-39 (pl. 9).

Prideaux, Tom. The World of Whistler 1834-1903. New York, 1970, pp. 132-134 (col. ill.).

Mendelowitz, D. M. A History of American Art, 2nd ed. New York, 1970, p. 289 (fig. 396).

DIA Handbook. 1972, p. 144.

McMullen, Roy. Victorian Outsider: A Biography of J.A.M. Whistler. New York, 1973, p. 23 (ill.).

Wilmerding, John, ed. The Genius of American Painting. London, 1973, p. 148 (ill.).

Lipman, Jean and Helen M. Franc. Bright Stars: American Painting and Sculpture Since 1776. New York, 1976, p. 96 (col. ill.).

Rivard, Nancy. "American Paintings at the DIA." Antiques 114 (November 1978): p. 1050, no. 3.

Whistler: The Later Years. Exh. cat., The University of Michigan Museum of Art. Ann Arbor, 1978.

Nagle, Judy. The Responsive Arts. Sherman Oaks, 1980, no. 1.

Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret Mac Donald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles. The Painting of James McNeill Whistler, Vol. 1. New Haven, 1980, pp. 97-99, no. 170.

Piper, David. Artists’ London. London, 1982, p. 95 (col. ill.).

The Quest for Unity: American Art Between the Worlds’ Fairs 1876-1893. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1983, p. 250, no. 159.

Stein, D. Whistler: The Artist’s Limited Edition. New York, 1984, p. 22 (fig. 11).

Norton, Thomas E. 100 Years of Collection in America—The Story of Sotheby Parke Bernet. New York, 1984, pp. 132-133 (ill.).

Janson, Horst Woldemar and Robert Rosenblum. Nineteenth Century Art. New York, 1984, p. 363 (fig. 286).

Dault, G.M. "Whistler: A Celebration." Canadian Art 1, 2 (1984): pp. 44-49 (ill.).

Curry, David Park. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1984, p. 70 (ill.).

Reynolds, Donald Martin. The Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, 1985, pp. 105-106 (ill.).

Horowitz, Frederick A. More Than You See: A Guide to Art. San Diego, California, 1985 (pl. 27).

100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, pp. 202- 203 (ill.).

Cabanne, Pierre. Whistler. New York, 1985, p. 60 (ill.).

Kondek, Donna. "Whistler's Other." Wayne State 1, 2 (1987): p. 12.

Henning, Edward B. Creativity in Art and Science, 1860-1960. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH, 1987, p. 38 (fig. 2).

Spencer, Robin, ed. Whistler: A Retrospective. New York, 1989 (ill.).

Merrill, Linda. A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in Whistler V Ruskin. Washington, D.C.,1992.

The Art of Seeing: John Ruskin and the Victorian Eye. Exh. cat., Phoenix Art Museum. Phoenix, 1993, p. 116 (fig. 83).

Siewert, John and Carole McNamara. Whistler, Prosaic Views, Poetic Vision: Works on Paper from the University of Michigan Museum of Art. New York, 1994 (fig. 1).

James McNeill Whistler: Retrospective Exhibition. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. London, 1995.

Cumming, Robert. ART: A Field Guide. New York, 2001. p. 274 (ill.).

Brett, Guy. Carnival of Perception: Selected Writings on Art. London, 2004, p. 25.

Lochnan, Katherine. Turner, Whistler, Monet: Impressionist Visions. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario. Toronto, 2004, pp. 143-144, 158, no. 50 (repro.).

James McNeill Whistler Retrospective. Exh. cat., The National Museum of Modern Art. Kyoto, 2014, p. 179 (ill.).

Russon, John. Sites of Exposure: Art, Politics, and the Nature of Experience. Bloomington, 2017, pp. 131-135, 147, p. 132 (fig. 4.2).

Schaefer, Barbara and Anita Hachmann, ed. Es War Einmal in Amerkika: 300 Jahre US-Amerikanische Kunst. Exh. cat., Wallraf das Museum. Cologne, 2018, p.126 (ill. no. 12).

Greenwald, Diana Seave. "Used Cars and Canvases: Information Economics, Art History, and the Art Market," American Art: Smithsonian American Art Museum (Fall 2019): 5-9, p. 7 (ill.).

Cao, Maggie M. "The Readymade and the Counterfeit: The Material Conditions of Art and Money." In Terra Foundation Essays. Vol. 6, Intermedia, Frohne, Ursula, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022, pp. 136-137, no. 7 (ill.).

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Catalogue Raisoneé

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Credit Line for Reproduction

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket, 1875, oil on panel. Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Dexter M. Ferry, Jr., 46.309.

Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket
Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket