In 2016 The Fine Art Society staged the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of prints by James McNeill Whistler for 45 years at its New Bond Street gallery.
Part of the The Fine Art Societys 140th anniversary celebration, this show featured one of the first and most illustrious artists represented by the gallery, whose printmaking was crucial in forging his career and reputation. 80 works, reflecting each phase of his work as an etcher, featuring early works including studies of his family and prints published in the French Set in 1858. This was followed by the etchings of the Thames which were the foundation of his reputation. The famous Venice set, commissioned by The Fine Art Society and first exhibited in the gallery in 1883 was also on show.
The exhibition included a number of Whistler’s rare Amsterdam etchings. He discussed their publication with The Fine Art Society in 1889, but the set was never issued. The artist considered them his greatest achievement. Whistler’s long association with The Fine Art Society made this exhibition an appropriate way to mark the 140th anniversary. Whistler is one of the small group of artists whose work as a printmaker would ensure their importance in the history of art. He stands with Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya and Picasso in this quality.