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Fri, 05/24/2024 to Sun, 09/22/2024

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Note in Red: The Siesta, by 1884, Oil on panel, Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.149

Exhibition Whistler, The Butterfly Effect

As part of the Normandie Impressionniste Festival, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen is staging an exhibition entitled "Whistler, the Butterfly Effect", devoted to the American painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
From 24 May to 22 September 2024, you can immerse yourself in a major artistic phenomenon: Whistlerism.


The exhibition explores a major phenomenon of the second half of the 19th century and the first third of the 20th: Whistlerism. This artistic movement, of which James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), an American-born artist, is the leading figure, has the distinctive feature of having been born in his own lifetime and of having influenced contemporary international art over a wide period.

Throughout Europe and the United States, the growing production of nocturnal landscapes and portraits testifies to the widespread dissemination of the artist's plastic research. Whistlerism's enduring appeal and wide-ranging influence make it an artistic phenomenon that offers a new prism through which to explore different currents, such as Impressionism and Symbolism.


James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Arrangement in black and grey No. 1, or the artist's mother (1871) © RMN - Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Jean Schormans

Whistler was fundamentally the greatest exponent of a form of total art, so highly prized at the time by the cosmopolitan artistic elite, combining poetry, music and the art of living. In this celebration of Rouen, dandyism, Japonism, Anglomania and a fascination with the Spanish Golden Age and Venice are just some of the key stages in a journey that visitors can extend by getting to the heart of the sensation.

Whistler and The Butterfly Effect are also salons where you can listen to music, breathe in perfumes and touch fabrics. The visitor is a guest. They can savour the atmosphere, the velvety softness of a seat, the subtle, subtle shades of the refined spaces that welcome them. Seashores, views of the Grand Canal or the River Thames, these are evanescent mirrors, delicately rendered in milky greys, greens and blues, in the still-vibrant but already flickering golds of the lights, muffled and distant echoes of the din of the city. In his portraits of elegant ladies and dandies, his pioneering night landscapes, and his daytime views, Whistler, with his palette full of subtle sub-tones, expressed exceptional qualities as a colourist.


James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl, 1864. Oil on canvas - © Tate Britain



Another distinctive feature of the exhibition is the desire to make Whistler's aesthetic accessible to as many people as possible, thanks to a wide range of media that use all five senses to make the exhibition as immersive as possible.

Particular attention is paid to the writing of the room texts and labels, to make them suitable for all audiences. Emmanuel Guibert and Marc Boutavant are also taking part, using their hero Ariol (a Bayard Jeunesse hero) to encourage intergenerational links between young people and adults. The comic-book hero will take young visitors on a journey of discovery through a painter who influenced and influenced others.

The mediation in the galleries will take a sensory and inclusive approach, offering visitors a visit that 'speaks' not only to sight but also to touch and hearing. Music, fabrics and scents provide a sensitive counterpoint to the contemplation of the works. Sound creations will guide visitors through the rooms, offering them an emotional and immersive experience of the exhibition. This tour is proposed by Musair.


Paul-César Helleu, On the beach, Dieppe, grey sea impression. Oil on canvas - © C. Lancien, C. Loisel



Laura Valette and Florence Calame-Levert


Sylvain Amic and Jean-Baptiste Chantoiseau


Full price : 12€

Cessession : 7€

Buy you tickets here.


Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen


Esplanade Marcel Duchamp
76000 Rouen

Practical information :
▶︎ Opening times:
Wednesday to Monday, 10am to 6pm

▶︎ Access :
By bus: Square Verdrel - rue Jeanne-d'Arc stop (F2, 8, 11, 13) and Beaux-Arts - rue Lecanuet stop (F2, 5, 11, 13, 20).
By metrobus: Gare SNCF or Palais de Justice station.

▶︎ Disabled access: 26 bis, rue Jean Lecanuet

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