The Butterfly on the Lagoon: Whistler in Venice 1879-80


A detailed examination of Whistler’s 18 months in Venice from 1879 to 1880 starting with his court case against Ruskin which led to his bankruptcy and the loss of his house in Chelsea.

I look at how the Fine Art Society in Bond Street funded his trip to Venice and how he survived in the bitter winter of 1879-80. With the arrival of spring and many American art students, Whistler again assumes the role of ‘The Master’ and I talk about his practical jokes and often outrageous behaviour. I also examine in detail the marvellous etchings and pastels that he produced  during this period in Venice. On his return to London in 1880 Whistler held a series of highly successful exhibitions in Bond Street which restored his reputation and finances.

This is a story of misfortune followed by triumph, set against the sparkling background of Venice.