James Abbott Mcneill Whistler

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Whistler, James Abbott Mcneill


Born July 10, 1834, in Lowell, Mass.; died July 17,1903, in London. American painter, etcher, and lithographer.

The son of a military engineer, Whistler spent most of his years in Europe. From 1843 to 1849, he lived in St. Petersburg, where he regularly visited the Academy of Fine Arts; from 1855 to 1859, he was in Paris, studying at the studio of C. Gleyre. He settled in London, residing there from 1859 to 1884 and again from 1896 to 1903.

Whistler was influenced by the style of G. Courbet and by Japanese art, and his work displayed a kinship with that of the French impressionists. His portraits, for example, combine a spare composition with a refined musicality of linear rhythms and tonal harmonies. These qualities are evident in, among other paintings, Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl (1862, National Gallery Washington, D.C.); Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1: the Artist’s Mother (1871, Louvre Museum, Paris); Miss Cicely Alexander: Harmony in Grey and Green (1872–74, National Gallery, London); and Portrait of Théodore Duret (1883, Metropolitan Museum, New York). A self-portrait, Arrangement in Grey (1871–73), hangs in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

In his paintings, Whistler strove for striking pictorial effects. The impression of vibrant movement produced, for example, in his nocturnal landscapes seems at times almost unreal, as in Old Battersea Bridge: Nocturne—Blue and Gold (1872–75, Tate Gallery, London). Whistler was also a master etcher, as demonstrated by the series of etchings he executed in Venice in 1879 and 1880.


In Russian translation:
Iziashchnoe iskusstvo sozdavat’ sebe vragov. [Compiled, translated, and annotated, with an introductory article, by E. A. Nekrasova.] Moscow, 1970.


McMullen, R. Victorian Outsider: James McNeill Whistler. [London-Basingstoke, 1974.
Weintraub, S. Whistler: A Biography. New York, 1974.