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James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Whistler Selbstporträt.jpg
Arrangement in Gray: Portrait of the Painter
(self portrait, c. 1872), Detroit Institute of Arts
James Abbott Whistler

July 11, 1834
Died July 17, 1903(1903-07-17) (aged 69)
London, England, UK
Nationality American
Education United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
Known for Painting
Notable work
Whistler's Mother
Movement Founder of Tonalism
  • 1884, elected honorary member, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
  • 1892, made an officer of the Légion d'honneur, France
  • 1898, charter member and first president of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers

James Abbott McNeill Whistler RBA ( July 11, 1834 – July 17, 1903) was an American artist active during the American Gilded Age and based primarily in the United Kingdom. He eschewed sentimentality and moral allusion in painting and was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". His signature for his paintings took the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger for a tail. The symbol combined both aspects of his personality: his art is marked by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative. He found a parallel between painting and music, and entitled many of his paintings "arrangements", "harmonies", and "nocturnes", emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony. His most famous painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (1871), commonly known as Whistler's Mother, is a revered and often parodied portrait of motherhood. Whistler influenced the art world and the broader culture of his time with his theories and his friendships with other leading artists and writers.

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