RPM’s current exhibition, Whistler & Company: The Etching Revival, on view in the ground floor Works on Paper Gallery, features more than sixty prints from the collection of over 10,000 works on paper from the permanent collection. The show includes nearly a dozen works by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, the American expatriate artist who made a big splash in Europe (and the States) with his ‘French Set,’ ‘Thames Set,’ and ‘Venice Set” of etchings in the late 1850s and early 1860s. The artist and some of his contemporaries sparked renewed interest in etching as an innovative medium that had not been experienced in Europe since the seventeenth century.
The Reading Public Museum received six of the etchings featured in the exhibition by Edwin DeTurck Bechtel (1880-1957). Bechtel was a prominent New York City lawyer who was born in Bechtelsville, PA (a town founded by his ancestors). He earned his degrees from Harvard and became an avid art collector and rose gardener. Over the years, Bechtel maintained a friendship with RPM founder and first director, Levi Mengel, a friendship which led to the gifts of nearly 80 works of art to The Museum from the 19-teens through the 1950s. The gifts included etchings by Rembrandt, Goya, Whistler, Joseph Pennell, Martin Lewis, and Rockwell Kent, as well as old master drawings and bronze sculptures. Bechtel also donated prints by Honoré Daumier, Jacques Callot, and Hendrick Goltzius, and others from his vast collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, among other institutions. The curatorial staff is thrilled to be able to feature a part of the Bechtel gift in this exhibition. Make sure you pay us a visit while it is on view (through September 24, 2017)!
You can get an online preview of the exhibition here.