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  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler
    Jul 10, 1834 – Jul 17, 1903
  • Battersea Reach - James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American-born, British-based artist. Averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, he was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". his work was multi-faceted. His earlier pieces were etchings, thanks to skills he picked up working as a cartographer. He painted portraits in the style of Realism, and later turned out abstracted landscapes, which he called "nocturnes." Whistler then returned to etching (drypoint) and tried his hand at lithography and interior decoration.
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Battersea Reach
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  • Battersea Reach

  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler
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  • circa 1863
    Oil on canvas
    50.8 cm (20 in.) x 76.2 cm (30 in.)
    Corcoran Gallery of Art, United States.

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Other paintings by James Abbott McNeill Whistler:

Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans
Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans
At the Piano
At the Piano
Battersea Reach from Lindsey Houses
Battersea Reach from Lindsey Houses
Blue and Silver: The Blue Wave, Biarritz
Blue and Silver: The Blue Wave, Biarritz
James Abbott McNeill WhistlerJames McNeill Whistler, the painter of that most American of works--the very icon of American motherhood--"Arrangement in Grey and Black" (better known, of course, as "Whistler's Mother"), ironically left the United States at the age of twenty-one, never to return. Whistler lived as an expatriate, alternating between London and Paris depending on the local artistic climate at the time. Egotistical, abrasive, and yet extremely talented, he stands as an isolated figure in art history, never directly associated with a specific style or school of painting. As a result, Whistler's work has in modern times rarely received the attention it deserves. The exhibition "James McNeill Whistler", now ending its run at the National Gallery in Washington, attempts to remedy this inattention by displaying major works spanning his artistic career.

Although a contemporary of the Impressionists, Whistler walked his own path from the Realism of Courbet to an aesthetic approach of "Art for Art's Sake." As one of the first westerners to be influenced by the artistic tradition of Japan, Whistler developed an aesthetic response to living. The Japanese made no distinction between fine and decorative art. His appreciation of this led Whistler to a wide range of artistic pursuits. In addition to his canvasses in a wide variety of media, Whistler collaborated with the architect E.W. Godwin in the design of a house as well as furniture. His famous "Peacock Room" is a milestone in interior decoration. Before Whistler, the visitor to an art gallery would be confronted by a wall-full of paintings hung from baseboard to ceiling. Whistler pioneered the modern style of sparse galleries, involving himself intimately in the presentation of his work. He even went so far as to have the gallery attendant attired in colors that would harmonize with the paintings on display. Unfortunately, Whistler's endeavors in these areas seem to have lent an aspect of decorativeness to his oeuvre that has contributed to his diminished reputation in the public mind. The popular image of Whistler as an aesthetic Parisian "dandy" is subject to reappraisal after viewing "James McNeill Whistler".