- School of Culture and Communication - Theses
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ItemThe butterfly in the antipodes: James McNeill Whistler's graphic work in the National Gallery of Victoria: history and legacyClayton-Greene, Kim L. R. ( 2012)This thesis interrogates the history and legacy of James McNeill Whistler’s graphic work in Victoria and, more broadly, Australia. The holdings of Whistler’s black and white work at the National Gallery of Victoria [NGV] are employed as a case study through which Whistler’s importance in Australia is examined. This dissertation argues that an analysis of the provenance of this collection reveals the history of Whistler’s artistic reception and reputation and proposes that the collection can act as a historical barometer, charting changes in the legacy of Whistler’s graphic art in Australia. Four periods central to the development of the history and legacy of Whistler in Australia are proposed by this thesis. The first is the earliest arrival of Whistler’s work in Australia, at the NGV in 1892, which prompted the first serious appreciation of Whistler’s artistic reputation. The second is the impact that Whistler’s graphic work had on the development of the Australian etching movement in the first decades of the twentieth century and the extent to which the artist’s influence was noticeably long lasting. The third is the inclusion of Whistler’s graphic art into the homes of Melbourne’s wealthier citizens in the inter-War era and the particular taste in interior design that this reflects. The fourth is the NGV’s recognition of Whistler’s established reputation as a leading print artist of the nineteenth-century etching revival through the targeted acquisition of his work in the mid-twentieth century. The important place in the history of graphic art that Whistler’s work occupies has recently been shown by the launch of the significant online catalogue raisonné of Whistler’s etchings. This thesis seeks to extend this scholarship on Whistler’s graphic art to Australia.