The exhibit, curated by Margaret MacDonald, professor emerita of art history, and Dr. Patricia de Montfort, both from the University of Glasgow, is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. It will travel to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., after being shown at Addison.
Faxon said from an art-history perspective, Whistler’s importance cannot be overlooked.
“He brought together a whole series of movements that were happening and formed them into one really magnificent body of work,” she said.
In addition to “An American in London,” two other exhibits will be opening Friday night at Addison Gallery.
In an homage to Whistler, “Industrial Strengths: Selections from the Collection” gathers works from the gallery’s permanent collection by artists who also found inspiration in the industrial landscape. This exhibit, which will also run through April 13, features a range of media and time periods.
It explores all aspects of the industrial scene, including laborers, factories, transportation and infrastructure, with behind-the-scenes photographs of Boston’s Big Dig construction among the subjects chronicled. Featured artists include Edward Hopper, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, O. Winston Link, Peter Vanderwarker and Siah Armajani.
“We thought that it would be interesting to choose works from our own collection from artists who portray industrial locations, in much the same way that Whistler portrayed the docks and warehouses on the Thames,” Faxon said.
Rounding out the winter shows is “Eye on the Collection: Artful Poses.” Running through March 30, the exhibit explores the way that portraits capture both the presence of an individual and reveal the social and artistic contexts that the work was created in. Pieces range from 18th-century paintings to modern photographs, all of which use the portrait for artistic and social purposes.
“‘Artful Poses’ is a reflection of the way in which Whistler puts people into context,” Faxon said. “They are pieces that show people engaged in an environment.”