Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket
Affronted by The Falling Rocket, John Ruskin accused Whistler of “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face” in the Fors Clavigera. As a leading art critic of the Victorian era, Ruskin’s harsh critique of The Falling Rocket caused an uproar among owners of other Whistler works. Rapidly, it became shameful to have a Whistler piece, pushing the artist into greater financial difficulties. With his pride, finances, and the significance of his Nocturne at stake, Whistler sued Ruskin for libel in defence. In court, he asked the jury to not view it as a traditional painting, but instead as an artistic arrangement…However, his case was not helped when The Falling Rocket was accidentally presented to trial upside down. His explanation of the composition proved fruitless before the judge. The Ruskin vs. Whistler Trial, which took place on November 25 and 26, 1878, was disastrous for Whistler. While he did not lose, he only won a farthing. After all the court costs, he had no choice but to declare bankruptcy. Whistler was forced to pawn, sell, and mortgage everything he could get his hands on.