Advertisements

Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

James McNeill Whistler

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903) was an American artist active during the American Gilded Age and based primarily in the United Kingdom. He was averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, and was a leading proponent of the credo “art for art’s sake.”

He found a parallel between painting and music and entitled many of his paintings “arrangements,” “harmonies,” and “nocturnes,” emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony. Whistler influenced the art world and the broader culture of his time with his artistic theories and his friendships with leading artists and writers.

His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger for a tail.

James McNeill Whistler’s Art

  • Whistler’s Mother
    • “Whistler’s Mother” by James McNeill Whistler depicts the painter’s mother, Anna McNeill Whistler. Its title is “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1” but is best known by its colloquial name “Whistler’s Mother.” It is one of the most famous works by an American artist. The painting has been featured in posters and stamps. It has been referenced in many works of fiction and within pop culture.

      An example is a Canadian War recruitment poster that urges men to enlist with the Irish Canadian Rangers and to fight for the women in their own lives. Based on Whistler’s painting of his mother, it appeals to notions of motherhood and family values that were popular at the time and often attributed to this picture. Museum: Musée d’Orsay, Paris

  • Arrangement in Gray: Portrait of the Painter
    • “Arrangement in Gray: Portrait of the Painter” by James McNeill Whistler depicts the artist in a composition that was influenced by Rembrandt, in whom he was genuinely interested. He had studied Rembrandt’s portraits at the Louvre, and this canvas Whistler arranged a strong opposition of light and shade.

      His wide-brimmed hat and tousled hair echoed Rembrandt’s hats and wavey hair. Visible next to his brushes is his unique signature in the shape of a stylized butterfly with a long tail. Museum:  Detroit Institute of Arts

  • Symphony in White, No. 1 (The White Girl)
    • “Symphony in White, No. 1” by James Abbott McNeill Whistler shows a woman in full figure standing on a wolf skin in front of a white curtain with a white lily in her hand. The woman is dressed all in white, which is the color scheme of the painting. The painting was originally called “The White Girl,” but later, Whistler called it “Symphony in White, No. 1.” Art critics have interpreted the painting as an allegory of innocence and its loss.

      This painting was an early experiment in white on white. This color scheme was a subject he would return to later, in two other paintings that would be given the titles of Symphony in White, No. 2 (1864) and Symphony in White, No. 3 (1865–67). Museum: National Gallery of Art, DC

Arrangement in Gray: Portrait of the Painter.

  • Title:                          Arrangement in Gray: Portrait of the Painter.
  • Artist:                        James McNeill Whistler
  • Year:                          1872
  • Medium:                    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions               Height: 74.9 cm (29.4 ″); Width: 53.3 cm (20.9 ″)
  • Museum:                   Detroit Institute of Arts

James McNeill Whistler

James Abbott McNeill Whistler Quotes

~~~

“To say to the painter that Nature is to be taken as she is is to say to the player that he may sit on the piano.”

~~~
“If other people are going to talk, the conversation becomes impossible.”

~~~

“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.”

~~~
“Oscar Wilde: “I wish I had said that.”
Whistler: “You will, Oscar; you will.”

~~~

“I am not arguing with you – I am telling you.”

~~~
“You shouldn’t say it is not good. You should say, you do not like it, and then, you know, you’re perfectly safe.”

~~~
“I can’t tell you if genius is hereditary, because heaven has granted me no offspring.”

~~~

“An artist’s career always begins tomorrow.”

~~~

“I maintain that two and two would continue to make four, in spite of the whine of the amateur for three, or the cry of the critic for five.”

~~~

Artists you should Know

~~~

“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.”
– James Abbott McNeill Whistler

~~~


Photo Credit: 1)  James Abbott McNeill Whistler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Hal Ross Perrigard, Harris Lithographing Co. Ltd [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 3) By US Post Office (US Post Office) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Advertisements