My Mother
By James McNeill Whistler


My Mother
By James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
In the Luxembourg, Paris

Whistler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, of Irish parentage. His father, Major George Whistler (who had married an American lady), afterwards went to Russia as an engineer, and his son spent his childhood there, returning to America with his mother at his father's death. He was educated at the Military School at West Point, but he had no liking for a soldier's career, and in 1856 he started his art studies in Paris. His first artistic success was gained with the "Femme Blanche," which was rejected for the Salon, but created a sensation in Art circles when shown in the Salon des Refuses. Later he came to London and took up his abode in Chelsea, which he made the centre of his activities until his death.

Whistler the man was no less remarkable than Whistler the artist, and in combination the two made up a personality which was remarkable though not lovable. He was a great egoist and was impatient of anything that savoured of criticism or of contradiction of his own ideas. When Ruskin, the champion of misunderstood artists, condemned his work, he brought an action against him for libel, so incensed was he that anybody should venture to criticise him strongly.

Out of all his eccentricities, however, his genius emerges and will redeem his memory from all ungraciousness. His exquisite style combines the softness and "atmosphere" of the French Impressionists, the tone values of Velazquez, and the bright harmony of the Japanese, with his own individuality. A delicate monotony of colours was his forte, and with soft colours he softened the hardness of realism to the impalpable visions such as nature reveals through the mists before the sun finishes playing upon them ere chasing them away. Thus his portraits, while convincingly real, are rather phantoms revealing the spirit of the sitters than material shapes picturing their bodies.

From the book "Famous Paintings" printed in 1913.

Large files of this public domain print are available at Stock Photos at Songs of Praise
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Online "Name the Painting"










Paintings by Whistler
at Olga's Place

Biography of Whistler
at Olga's Place

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
biography at Web Museum

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
from the ArtChive

James McNeill Whistler
links at Art Cyclopedia

Whistler
at Wikipedia

Whistler
from the Worldwide Art Gallery

Art History
online interactive art lesson - elementary

Recollections and Impressions of James A. McNeill Whistler
online book

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Famous Paintings in this Series




M. Bompard

A Prayer to the Madonna


Botticelli

The Madonna and Child


Sir Edward Coley
Burne-Jones

King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid


Sir Edward Coley
Burne-Jones

The Mill


Jean Charles Cazin

Ishmael


John Constable

Boat-Building Near
Flatford Mill


John Crome

On the Skirts of the Forest


Pascal Adolphe Jean
Dagnan-Bouveret

The Blessed Bread


Theophile Emanuel Duverger

Alone


C.W. Furse

Diana of the Uplands


W.H. Gore

"'Listed"


Peter Graham

A Rainy Day


Jean Baptiste Greuze

The Listening Girl


Sir James Guthrie

A Highland Funeral


Frans Hals

A Man With a Glove
In His Hand


Hans Holbein the Younger

The Ambassadors


Henry Holiday

Dante and Beatrice


Sir Edwin Landseer

Suspense


Sir Edwin Landseer

A Naughty Child


H.H. La Thangue

Mowing Bracken


Sir Thomas Lawrence

Caroline of Brunswick,
Queen of George IV.

G.D. Leslie

Sun and Moon Flowers


J. Seymour Lucas

Flirtation


Jean Louis Ernest
Meissonier

The Print Collector


Jean Francois Millet

The Angelus


Jean Francois Millet

Going to Work


Sir William Quiller
Orchardson

The Farmer's Daughter


Ralph Peacock

Ethel


Rembrandt

His Own Portrait


Sir Joshua Reynolds

The Infant Samuel


Sir Joshua Reynolds

The Strawberry Girl


George Romney

The Parson's Daughter


W. Dendy Sadler

A Good Story


W. Dendy Sadler

Friday


William Small

The Last Match


J.M. Swan

On the Alert,
Lioness and Cubs


J.M.W. Turner

Peace: Burial at Sea of the
Body of Sir David Wilkie


J.M.W. Turner

Rain Steam and Speed
The Great Western Railway


Velazquez

Portrait of a Spanish Lady
"La Femme a L'Eventail"


Frederick Walker

The Vagrants


George Frederick Watts

Hope


James McNeill Whistler

My Mother


Anders Zorn

A Fisherman


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Famous Paintings