"WHISTLER'S MOTHER" will visit Washington this season. So will a group of oils by Winston Churchill, "Paul Revere" by Copley, Sargent's "Madame X" and a carved-stone, 10-ton jaguar once fed by the Aztecs with sacrificial blood and still-warm human hearts.

One of the world's most famous paintings, the "Last Supper" of Leonardo, which in recent months has been partly restored, will be the subject of a scholarly before-and-after show opening in December at the National Gallery of Art.

Juan Gris, the Spanish cubist, will have a one-man show. So will Thomas Gainsborough, the 18th-century Englishman, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, the 18th-century Venetian; Malcolm Morley, the former photo-realist; Washington's Rockne Krebs; and Gerald Murphy, the American expatriate who thought living well the best revenge.

French portraits from Versailles, Bronze Age weapons found in Thailand, daguerreotypes from Philadelphia, modern art from Idaho, and amulets and game boards from the Islamic communities of sub-Saharan Africa will also be displayed.

The Washington Project for the Arts will call into existence a variety of objects, all made on the spot, all made of cardboard and all taking as their theme Washington itself. It also plans to show a group of sculptures that sing, clang, hum or otherwise make sounds.

The Hirshhorn Museum will mount a large exhibit of all the art it's bought since the day it opened. Other museums--the Corcoran, the Freer, the Baltimore Museum--also will draw focused shows from their permanent collections.

Here is a partial listing of this season's noteworthy museum shows. September

"Lee Friedlander: Factory Valleys," a show of 96 black-and-white photographs documenting the industrial areas of the Ohio River Valley, opened earlier this month at the Baltimore Museum of Art. It closes Oct. 16. "Provincetown Printers: A Woodcut Tradition," which opened Friday at the National Museum of American Art, explores the tradition of colored woodcut printing, which, established during World War I, still survives in that town on Cape Cod. It closes Jan. 8. "Malcolm Morley," which opened yesterday at the Corcoran, includes 48 paintings in a variety of styles by the British-born New Yorker. It closes Nov. 6.

Most, but not all, of the art at the Hirshhorn was given to the nation by the late Joseph Hirshhorn. "Purchases by the Hirshhorn Museum, 1974-1983," which will run from Thursday through Nov. 13, will include all the works of art bought by the museum--157 objects by such artists as Stuart Davis, Joan Miro', Aristide Maillol, Joseph Cornell, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Richard Diebenkorn. From Friday to June 17, the Renwick Gallery will show "Clay for Walls," an exhibit of 39 contemporary American ceramic works. From Saturday to Nov. 13, the Corcoran will offer an exhibit of Emmet Gowin's photographs. From Sept. 21 to Dec. 1, the gallery of the Federal Reserve Board will show the paintings of Gerald Murphy (1888-1964), an artist better known for the motto he lived by--and for inspiring the character of Dick Diver in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Tender is the Night"--than he is for his adventurous, machine-inspired art.

Winston Churchill was 40--and out of work--when, in 1915, he began to paint. "I had long hours of utterly unwanted leisure in which to contemplate the frightful unfolding of the war," he recalled. "I had great anxiety and no means of relieving it." Attacking canvas helped. "The canvas," he wrote later, "grinned in helplessness before me. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with berserk fury." From Sept. 21 until Nov. 2, his surprisingly pacific paintings will go on exhibition in the Associates' Lounge at the Smithsonian Institution's Castle.

Though the late Charles Lang Freer, founder of the Freer Gallery of Art, followed only his exquisite taste in assembling his collections of Oriental art, scientific scholarship has forced the re-examination of many works he bought. A painting he believed Chinese turns out to be Korean; a ewer from Iran has been traced by art historians to the pottery that made it. These objects will be among 60 included in "Studies in Connoisseurship, 1923-1983," at the Freer from Sept. 23 to Feb. 28.

On Sept. 24, the Corcoran will open a pair of exhibitions drawn from its collection: "The Grand Tour" will include prints, drawings and watercolors by Sargent, Hassam, Vedder and other adventurous Americans, who recorded their responses to late 19th-century Europe. It will close Nov. 13. "Daumier: Selections From the Gift of Dr. Armand Hammer" will include approximately 100 prints from the 1,000 Hammer has given to the gallery. It will close Dec. 11. From Sept. 25 to Nov. 20, the Baltimore Museum will show "John Shaw: Cabinet Maker of Annapolis." From Sept. 27 to Nov. 20, to mark the centennial of the death of Edouard Manet, the Baltimore Museum will show the prints it owns by that French master.

"Art of Aztec Mexico: Treasures of Tenochtitlan," at the National Gallery of Art from Sept. 28 to Jan. 8, is the first major exhibition of objects from the Great Temple of the capital of the Aztec empire. Founded in 1325, Tenochtitlan was razed and looted by the Spaniards in 1525. The 90-item show is a joint undertaking of the Gallery and Dumbarton Oaks. October

From Oct. 1 to Jan. 8, the Corcoran will offer "La Vie Moderne: 19th Century French Art from the Corcoran Gallery." While "The Grand Tour" will help show how Americans saw France, "La Vie Moderne"--which will include 41 works by such painters as Corot, Degas, Renoir, Monet and Pissarro--will demonstrate how Frenchmen looked at contemporary life in France.

From Oct. 2 to Dec. 4, the National Gallery will show 91 drawings by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788). On Oct. 4, dipping once again into its permanent collection, the Baltimore Museum will open "Master Drawings: Daumier to Picasso." The show will close Nov. 27. Another nonloan show, "Direct Carving in Modern Sculpture," will be at that Hirshhorn from Oct. 6 through Nov. 27. Ossip Zadkine, Chaim Gross, Isamu Noguchi, and Constantin Brancusi will be represented.

"Sound Seen" is the title of the 20-sculpture show at the Washington Project for the Arts from Oct. 7 to Oct. 29. It may well be cacophonous. All the objects in it--by such artists as Bob Natalini, Norman Andersen and Laurie Anderson--have been designed to produce sounds.

On Oct. 14 (through Jan. 15), "Ivory: The Sumptuous Art," a major exhibition of artifacts of ivory will open at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. The 500 objects in it they range from pre-dynastic Egyptian carvings to works of early 20th-century art nouveau--have are from the museum's permanent collection.

A Juan Gris retrospective, the first in 25 years, will be seen from Oct. 15 to Dec. 21 at the National Gallery. Its 90 pictures will demonstrate how Gris, at first a follower of Braque and Picasso, eventually developed his idiosyncratic style.

From Oct. 19 to Jan. 22, the National Museum of American Art, will open "The Capital Image: Painters in Washington, 1800-1915," a 250-object show devoted to Gilbert Stuart, Charles Bird King, John Gadsby Chapman, Emanuel Leutze and other artists less well-known who worked here long ago.

On Oct. 20, the National Portrait Gallery will open "Robert Cornelius: Portraits from the Dawn of Photography." Cornelius was a Philadelphian who made a photograph of himself on a sheet of polished silver in 1839. Though Daguerre had been taking pictures since 1835, Cornelius believed he was "the first to obtain a likeness of the human face." The 37-object show closes Jan. 22.

The WPA, which is turning its theater into a sort of working laboratory, will open that space on Oct. 21 with an exhibition--open to all comers--that has but two restraints: All the objects put together there must deal with the theme of Washington, and all must be of cardboard. "Washington: District of Cardboard" will close Nov. 4. Another exhibition dealing with the city will open at the Renwick Gallery on Oct. 21. "Lafayette Square, 1963-1983: Historic Preservation and Modern Architecture" will focus on the scheme, inspired by John F. Kennedy, that succeeded in preserving the smaller, older houses that flank the nearby park. The show closes Jan. 15. From Oct. 25 to Jan.15, the Baltimore Museum, still mining its collection, will open the second half of a survey show, "Master Prints II: Daumier to Picasso," which will close Jan. 15. November

"Ban Chiang: The Discovery of a Lost Bronze Age," at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, will include about 200 artifacts--pots, bits of metal work, small ceramic animals, pieces of worked bone and intricate ceramic rollers of unknown use (perhaps once employed for putting designs on fabric). All come from excavations at Ban Chiang in northeastern Thailand, where a previously unknown Bronze Age culture, which flourished between 4000 and 200 B.C., was recently discovered. On Nov. 4, the WPA will host artists' bands.

"Masterpieces from Versailles: Three Centuries of French Portraiture," from Nov. 11 through Jan. 8 at the National Portrait Gallery, will include likenesses of French kings, their consorts and various personalities from the Napoleonic era, painted by such artists as Ingres, David and Simon Vouet.

From Nov. 19 to Dec. 10, the WPA will offer "Child and Man," an exhibit of drawings produced in a collaboration between many children and one grownup; Gene Davis is the adult. On Nov. 19, the Corcoran will open two small exhibitions, both drawn from its collections. "Recent Acquisitions: Photographs" (through Jan. 27) will concentrate on photographs in color, many of them taken by younger local artists; "One of a Kind: Monotypes from the Collection" (through Jan. 15) will include images by such artists as Joseph Pennell and Maurice Prendergast.

On Nov. 20 (through Feb. 26), to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, 106 of the Venetian artist's drawings, prints and illustrated books go on view at the National Gallery. From Nov. 30 through April 22, the Museum of African Art will offer "Artistry in African Islam," a show of more than 100 artifacts, all reflecting the influence of Islam on the arts of Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa. December

"Sawtooths and Other Ranges of Imagination: Contemporary Art From Idaho," at the National Museum of American Art from Dec. 1 to Feb. 20, will include more than 40 objects in various media.

"A New World: Masterpieces of American Painting," a masterpiece exhibit worthy of the word, will be on view from Dec. 7 through Feb. 12 at the Corcoran. Whistler's portrait of his mother, Church's "Niagara Falls," Eakins' "The Gross Clinic," Sargent's "Madame X," and Bingham's "Fur Traders Descending the Missouri" will be among the works displayed. The show, organized by Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., is now at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; it will travel to the Louvre after closing here. "Dreams and Nightmares: Utopian Visions in Modern Art," at the Hirshhorn from Dec. 8 to Feb. 12, will include works by Piet Mondrian, Hugh Ferriss, Charles Sheeler and Buckminster Fuller--who sensed a better world approaching--as well as images by George Grosz, George Tooker and Ben Shahn, who were not so sure. On Dec. 11, the Baltimore Museum of Art will open two exhibits. One, the 1983 Maryland Biennial (through Jan. 22) juried by Kenneth Tyler and John Coplans; the other, "Baltimore Collects" (through Feb. 5), will include examples of Constructivist and de Stijl art from a private collection. From Dec. 16 through Jan. 21, two shows will be on view at the WPA. One will be devoted to photographs by Washington's Shirley True; the other, "Flat Work by Sculptors," organized by Washington sculptors Chris Gardner and John Van Alstine, will include drawings by their colleagues Ed McGowin, Robert Stackhouse and Rockne Krebs, among others.

Though Washington's Rockne Krebs is best known for his sculptures of laser light and sunbeams, he's been drawing all the while, and a retrospecitve of his works on paper--his first one-man museum show in a decade--will be at the Corcoran from Dec. 17 to Jan. 29.

A pair of exhibits will open Dec. 18 at the National Gallery. "Leonardo's Last Supper: Before and After" (through March 4) will include large-format photographs of recent restorations, a number of the master's preparatory drawings and drawings by others (Rubens, for example) of the mural in Milan; "Master Drawings from the Woodner Collection," (through Feb. 26) will include works by such artists as Correggio, Rembrandt, Ingres, Seurat and Matisse, all from the collection of Ian Woodner. The New Year

On Jan. 28 (through April 1), the Corcoran will open "Washington Watercolors," a show featuring half a dozen local artists, among them Patricia Forrester and Stephen Pace. A selection of Hollywood movie stills from the '50s and the '60s, all of them in color, will be on view at the Corcoran from Feb. 4 through April. Ronald Reagan, Lassie, Tab Hunter, Frankie Avalon and other stars will appear. "Artists' Portraits," at the National Portrait Gallery from Feb. 10 to March 25, will include portraits and self-portraits--Paul Manship by George Bellows, Thomas Wilmer Dewing by William Merritt Chase, Benjamin West by Samuel F.B. Morse and self-portraits by all three of the Wyeths, N.C., Andrew and Jamie--from the collection of the National Academy of Design. From Feb. 19 to April 15, the Baltimore Museum will present a retrospective of the works of the English conceptual performance artists Gilbert and George. "The Folding Image: Screens by Western Artists of the 19th and 20th Centuries" will be on view from March 1 through May 13 at the National Gallery. From March 11 to June 3, the Gallery will offer an exhibit of 50 paintings by Mark Tobey. Its summer shows will include a major Watteau retrospective (June 17 through September) to mark the tercentenary of the master's birth; "Mark Rothko: Works on Paper, 1925-1970" (July 1 through Sept. 3), and "The Romance of the Middle East in Western Painting from Delacroix to Matisse," which will open at the Royal Academy, London, before visiting the National Gallery from July 1 to Oct. 28.