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  James Abbott McNeill  Whistler 

Birth Year : 1834
Death Year : 1903
Country : US

James Abbott McNeill Whistler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, a fact of which he did not care to be reminded. His father was a builder of railroads and took his nine year old son to St. Petersburg where the boy lived like an aristocrat and attended the Russian Academy of Fine Arts. When his father died, Whistler was brought back to the family farm, but he was restless and discontented, flunked out of West Point, lost several jobs, and then, having read Murger's La Vie de Bohème, left for Paris in 1855, never to return home. He arrived at Gleyre's Academy when Manet, Monet, and Degas were students there and the first stirrings of Impressionism were in the air. Four years later, Whistler went to live in London, carrying with him an interest in quick impressions but very little of the French approach to light and color. His palette leaned strongly to grays, whites, and blacks, and he conceived of his paintings as "nocturnes," "symphonies," and "arrangements" of "line, form, and color." A strong advocate of "art for art's sake," he believed in the importance of the painting rather than in its subject matter, and as a result, some of his works are so nonrepresentational as to be true forerunners of twentieth-century abstraction. His most famous painting, best known to us as The Artist's Mother, has as its first title Arrangement in Black and Gray. Whistler painted it to emphasize the patterns evoked by its large, flat area, an idea inspired by Japanese prints. Whistler's works aroused the antagonism of the critic John Ruskin, and the artist's sharp-tongued reply to that gentleman's remarks ended in a famous lawsuit from which Whistler emerged a technical victor. He was awarded damages of one farthing, but his reputation was so damaged that he went bankrupt. To recoup his losses, he began to create light and brilliantly executed etchings, devoting most of his time to them for some years. Whistler's works have an exquisite charm; his landscapes are airy, his portraits ethereally wistful. he exerted an extraordinary influence both on public taste and on future trends in British art. He remained in London until 1890 when he returned to Paris to open an art school. he died in Paris in 1903. 

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
White Girl, The

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Arrangement in Grey & Black, Artist's Mother

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Rose and Silver the Princess from the L

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Portrait of the Artist's Mother

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