SIA Inspiration: James McNeill Whistler

Since this week’s SIA coincides with the Lunar New Year, I decided to pick a celebratory piece, “Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket” by James Abbott McNeil Whistler:

It may look straightforward enough to our modern eyes, but when this painting first came out, it stirred up great controversies due to its abstract and unconventional feel, and even caused a lawsuit between Whistler and the art critic John Ruskin (Whistler won, but ended up bankrupt anyway.) Despite this slightly depressing background, I still think it’s appropriate for the Lunar New Year, with the firework displays and the rich dark tones.

So if you want to participate, just send me your outfit post and/or photo by next Monday, February 8 (the first day of the Year of the Monkey!) Have fun!

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4 Comments on “SIA Inspiration: James McNeill Whistler”

  1. Mike says:

    Great choice Salazar! I like it. It does sort of have a celebratory look to it, doesn’t it? And thanks for the mini lecture on the history of it. It compels me to find out more about it.

    And I know that I’m early, but Happy Lunar New Year! Year of the monkey!
    Chuc mung nam moi! I don’t have the matching characters here but I hope that I said it correctly.

  2. Mike says:

    After seeing this week’s SIA inspiration painting, and reading Salazar’s description on it, I wanted to find out more about it. If I may add to it a little, when Whistler sued Ruskin for libel in court over his harsh criticism of the painting, Whistler did indeed win the case, as Salazar said. But I looked it up and found out something even more intriguing. Whistler only won one farthing, which is basically a British coin that was only worth a fourth of what a penny is worth, so it’s easy to see why he had to declare bankruptcy afterwards.
    And things didn’t go well for him during the trial either because his painting was presented upside down by mistake, sort of adding insult to injury to the whole thing.
    Ruskin was ruthless. Even before this whole controversy over Whistler’s painting took place, Ruskin trashed much of his work early on, calling it “absolute rubbish”.

    But here’s an interesting link that I found involving Mr. Ruskin. When I saw this painting this morning, it reminded me of another painting that I remember seeing called “The Slave Ship” by J.M.W. Turner, painted in 1840, 35 years before “Nocturne in Black and Gold”. These two paintings are very different of course in terms of color and appearance. And the themes of both are nearly polar opposites. But the link I found is that Ruskin actually owned this painting at one point in his life, which I find quite interesting, considering his reputation for being an art critic in the most extreme way. And he wasn’t just an owner of it. He was the first owner.

    What made this interesting for me is that while seeing the painting “Nocturne in Black and Gold”, it made me think of “The Slave Ship” painting, in which it’s overall appearance in terms of technique is similar to Whistler’s painting. And not knowing about Ruskin at the time, when I looked up information for “The Slave Ship”, I come to find that Ruskin, who basically trashed Whistler’s painting, was the first owner of Turner’s painting, which was controversial in its own right. Interesting, yes?

  3. Noelle says:

    Oh, this is a breathtaking painting. I can’t stop looking at the texture. Can’t wait to play around with this!

  4. […] outfit has the dark night sky colors the echo the painting that Salazar chose for this week’s Style Imitating Art challenge. The gold zipper on the top is a nod to the firework-eque splashes in the night […]


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