Musée No:379.078Regular price $32.33
Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: Unknown date
James McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903) was an American born, mainly British based artist who studied his craft in Paris at a school that would go on to teach both Monet and Renoir. He was noted for his paintings of nocturnal London, for his striking and stylistically advanced full-length portraits, and for his brilliant etchings and lithographs. He developed a famous signature in the form of a butterfly for his works often named using musical terms – harmonies, symphonies etc, for example one of his most famous works - Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl. It was the portrait of his mistress but thought to be an allegory of a new bride's lost innocence, or possibly linked to Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, a popular novel of the time. He became a central figure in the Aesthetic movement, which was founded on the philosophy of “art for art’s sake” He was friends with Manet, Carolus-Duran, Rossetti, and other pre-Raphaelites.
He fell out with Oscar Wilde who in turn based the murdered artist in The Portrait of Dorian Gray on him. In 1877 He brought a libel suit against John Ruskin after his perceived negative comments on Nocturne in Black and gold – he won and was awarded damages of just one farthing, the smallest coin available. It bankrupted him and he moved to Venice with his mistress, Maud, where he became a centre of attraction among the many foreign artists. In 1890, he met Charles Lang Freer, who became a valuable patron in America, and his most important collector. Around this time, in addition to portraiture, Whistler experimented with early colour photography and with lithography, creating a series featuring London architecture and the human figure, mostly female nudes.