Died on 17 July 1959: Alfred
English painter born on 08 October 1878.
— He grew up in the countryside of the Waveney Valley and left school at the age of 14 for a six-year apprenticeship with a firm of lithographers in Norwich, where he came to excel as a lithographic draftsman while also studying painting in evening classes. He left the printing business after his apprenticeship, supporting himself through freelance poster work and occasional sales of paintings. The loss of sight in his right eye in an accident in 1898 did not deflect his determination to paint, and in 1899 two of his pictures were shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
— Off to the Meet (168kb) — Going out at Epsom (1929, 40x58cm)
— The Hop Picker (1910, 52x61cm) — Near Dedham (1902, 46x61cm)
— A Saddled Hunter in a Landscape (49x61cm) _ a saddled horse, no human anywhere.
— Pigs In A Wood, Cornwall (63x76cm) _ a sow and six piglets.
— Saddling for the Point-to-Point (56x62cm)
Born on 17 July 1797: Hippolyte
“Paul” Delaroche, French Academic
painter who died on 04 November 1856.
Born in Paris, Delaroche studied under Gros, and specialized in romantic historical subjects such as the Death of Queen Elizabeth (1827), Jeanne d'Arc en Prison (1824), Napoléon Crossing the Alps (1850), Princes in the Tower (1830), and the Execution of Lady Jane Grey (1834).
From this period until 1841 he was engaged on his grandest work the mural Apothesis of Art in the École des Beaux-Arts, in which he was aided by Armitage and others of his students.
Delaroche is best known today for his painting La Jeune Martyre.
— Delaroche's students included Tony Robert-Fleury, Gustave Boulanger, Gérôme, Louis Gallait, François Gignoux, Ernest Hébert, Charles Landelle.
Pierre le Grand (119x88cm; 1208x984pix, 164kb — ZOOM to 2416x1968pix, 630kb)
— Cromwell looking at Charles I in his Coffin (1831; detail 883x1187pix, 128kb — ZOOM to full picture; 2023x2446pix, 627kb)
— Assassinat du duc de Guise (1834; 769x1182pix, 129kb — ZOOM to 1537x2694pix, 838kb)
— L'ultime adieu des Girondins le 31 octobre 1793 (1856; detail 941x1737pix, 199kb — ZOOM to full picture; 1555x2768pix, 425kb)
The Childhood of Pico della Mirandola (1842)
Hemicycle de l'École des Beaux-Arts: Gauche _ Centre _ Droite
Cardinal Mazarin Dying (1830) Herodias (1843) Marquis de Pastoret (1829) Strafford (1836)
Diedon 17 July 1632: Hendrick
van Balen I, Antwerp Flemish painter and stained-glass
designer born in 1575.
— He was in Italy in the 1590s. His speciality was mythological scenes painted in the highly finished manner of Jan Brueghel, one of the numerous artists with whom he collaborated. Van Balen specialized in human figures and was often asked to add staffage to landscapes painted by his colleagues. He had three painter sons and was a popular teacher.
— Despite humble beginnings as the son of a dry goods merchant, Hendrik van Balen was probably well-educated, for on his death he left numerous books in different languages. He may have been trained by one of Antwerp's Italianate painters, or he may have absorbed the influence of Italian painting on a trip he took to Italy between 1595 and 1600. Van Balen became a master in Antwerp's Guild of Saint Luke about 1592; from 1602 he is recorded regularly, especially as a teacher. For thirty years he ran a successful studio, counting among his pupils Anthony van Dyck and Frans Snyders; three of his sons became painters. Van Balen painted numerous large altarpieces, but he is best known for his cabinet pictures, often depicting mythological or allegorical subjects in which nudes lounge in paradise-like settings. He also painted landscapes, usually small in scale and painted on copper or oak. He often provided figures for landscapes by his friend Jan Brueghel the Elder, as well as for Jan Brueghel the Younger, Snyders, and Frans Francken. Van Balen's work has sometimes been ascribed to Jan the Elder.
— His approximate date of birth can be deduced from a document dated 28 August 1618, in which he gives his age as 43. His father was a merchant of oil, candles and groceries; yet it seems likely that Hendrik’s formal education was good, as on his death he left a considerable number of books in different languages. He became a master in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1592–1593. Van Mander stated that Adam van Noort was van Balen’s teacher; the name of Marten de Vos has also been suggested. Between 1595 and 1600 van Balen traveled to Italy, presumably visiting Rome, Venice, and other cities. Although there is no record of his travels, on his return to Antwerp he became a member of the Guild of the Romanists, so it is clear he had visited Rome. Once back in Antwerp, van Balen collaborated with Abel Grimmer on a View of Antwerp (1600), depicting God, Christ and the Virgin in clouds above Grimmer’s cityscape. From 1602 onwards van Balen’s name appears regularly in the records of the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke, especially as a teacher. He married in 1605, and three of his sons became painters: Jan van Balen [bapt. 21 Jul 1611 – 14 March 1654], Gaspard van Balen [bapt. 12 May 1615 – 07 March 1641] and Hendrik van Balen II [16 Jan 1623 – 02 March 1661]. His daughter Maria married Theodoor van Thulden. Van Balen ran a successful studio for 30 years and had many students, including Anthony Van Dyck in 1609 (the same year he was head dean of the Guild), and Frans Snyders, and Gerard Seghers. In 1613 van Balen traveled to the northern Netherlands with Rubens and Jan Breughel the elder; otherwise he remained in Antwerp.
— The Judgement of Paris (1599, 173kb) [see The Judgement of Paris by many other artists]
— The Holy Trinity (1625) — The Abduction of Europa (50x74cm; 511x768pix, 105kb)
— Wings of an Altarpiece (1620, 270x85cm each) _ The two panels, Virgin and Child with Angels and John the Baptist rebuking King Herod, served originally as the shutters of a triptych. The centre panel was Saint John Preaching to the Multitude. The left wing shows angels preparing Jesus' bath. One of them is about to take the Infant from his mother's arms, while another carries a basin and a third angel a pair of towels. Other little angels look down from a cloudy sky. The charming scene prefigures the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist. By using such a familiar scene from everyday life, the artist was able to intensify the spiritual appeal to the ordinary viewer. The scene in the right wing is much more dramatic. Inside a classical palace, John the Baptist rebukes Herod Antipas, the King of Palestine, for his adulterous marriage to Herodias, who, together with a lady-in-waiting, witnesses the confrontation. The preacher duly paid for his accusations with his life.
— Landscape with Ceres (Allegory of Earth) (1635, 53x81cm) landscape by Jan Brueghel the Younger; with figures by van Balen. _ Shown separately or together, as in Landscape with Allegories of the Four Elements (52x72cm; 512x718pix, 118kb), the four elements were a popular subject for Jan Brueghel the Younger and his collaborator Hendrik van Balen. Here earth is represented by the goddess Ceres, who is surrounded with a satyr, putti, and a figure holding a sheaf of wheat. Ceres, whose name means “creator,” was the goddess of agriculture, worshiped over a large part of ancient Italy Together Jan the Younger and Van Balen often painted the four elements, which had also been part of the repertoire of Jan the Younger’s father, Jan Brueghel the Elder. Brueghel the Elder taught his son the lush, decorative, yet highly detailed landscape and still life style seen in this painting. Van Balen, one of Jan the Younger’s most consistent collaborators, was known for his attractive nudes. This panel was probably one of his latest works; he had begun painting figures for the Brueghel family years before, working with his friend Jan the Elder in addition to collaborating with Frans Snyders and Frans Francken II.
Born on 17 July 1871: Lyonel
Charles Adrian Feininger, US Cubist
painter whose paintings and teaching activities at the Bauhaus brought a
new compositional discipline and lyrical use of color into the predominantly
Expressionistic art of Germany. He died on 13 January 1956, in New York
City, where he was also born.
Biografie (auf Deutsch)
An abstract modernist who in 1919 with Walter Gropius was part of the founding of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany where he stayed for the next six years. He completed a number of abstract architectural works and in 1921 had a joint exhibition with Paul Klee at the Weimar Museum. He was also an accomplished pianist and composed fugues, which reflected his art that explored interrelationships, synchronization, and overlapping in the building of an overall sense of order.
The US-born painter and printmaker Lyonel Feininger had a career unlike that of any other US artist of his generation–the first generation of US modernists that included Alfred Maurer (born 1868), John Marin (born 1870) and Marsden Hartley (born 1877), all of whom Feininger outlived. Feininger was himself born in New York into a German-American musical family, and it was to study music (violin and composition) that he went off to Germany at the age of 16. It wasn’t until half a century later–in 1937, when his paintings were included in the infamous Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich–that he quit Germany for good and re-established himself in the city of his birth.
Before he was known as a modern painter, however, Feininger had achieved considerable success as a caricaturist and cartoonist, drawing political cartoons for German newspapers and then a well-known comic strip for the Chicago Tribune. It was his contract with the Tribune that enabled him to spend two years in Paris (1906-08), where the influence of Cubism and Futurism–especially the Orphic Cubism of Robert Delaunay–became the basis of his later work as a painter on both sides of the Atlantic.
After the artist’s early work, comes the period in which elements of caricature and folklore are gradually but decisively supplanted by Cubist form and the aesthetics of abstraction. For reasons beyond the artist’s control, much of his early work as a painter remained unknown in the US until the mid-1980’s. For it was only then–and after considerable legal wrangling–that the Feininger estate was able to retrieve the large quantity of Feininger’s early oeuvre that he left in the safekeeping of a German friend when the artist and his wife (who was Jewish) fled Nazi Germany for New York in 1937. That important body of work was shown for the first time in the US in 1985. One of these paintings is The Carnival in Gelmeroda (1908). Feininger’s principal motif in the painting–the church in the center of the village of Gelmeroda–was subsequently transformed into the language of Cubism. Feininger often returned to this motif in the years that followed the completion of the Carnival painting, and these drawings give us a detailed account of his development in this crucial period of his work.
Feininger was an artist of far more versatile talents than he is usually given credit for. His is, after all, one of the few 20th-century oeuvres in which the modernist movements in Germany, France and the United States live on remarkably easy terms with each other. In Paris, he was on friendly terms with Delaunay; at the Bauhaus, he was close to Klee and Kandinsky (though he loathed László Moholy-Nagy and lamented his influence); and in the United States, he developed an important friendship with Mark Tobey, with whom he carried on an extensive correspondence. The young artist who entertained newspaper readers in Germany and the U.S. with political cartoons and comic strips was also the man who created the signature image the woodcut of the so-called Cathedral of Socialism for Walter Gropius’ first Bauhaus manifesto. Still later, after his return to New York, he created a memorable series of mystical Cubist paintings of Manhattan skyscrapers–paintings in which the vertical cityscape, newly discovered after half a century abroad, is depicted in highly poetic crystalline structures of light. They remain some of the most beautiful paintings ever inspired by the Manhattan skyline.
Self-Portrait (1915, 100x77cm) [looks angry]
— Hopfgarten (1920, 64x82cm; 766x980pix, 101kb — ZOOM to 1530x1960pix, 446kb)
— Grosse-Kromsdorf I (1915, 99x80cm; 800x634pix, 42kb; ZOOM to 2000x1585pix, 277kb) _ Born in New York City, Lyonel Feininger lived in Germany, his parent's homeland, for most of his life. After a brief stay in Paris in 1911, Feininger embraced Cubism, declaring that "What one sees must be transformed in the mind and crystallized." However, he preferred to call his style "prism-ism," saying it was "based upon the principle of monumentality." While living in Weimar in 1913, Feininger began exploring such nearby villages as Grosse-Kromsdorf, the subject of this painting. Attracted to the town's medieval architecture, he spent hours studying its churches and other structures to find "the secret of their form."
Bollwerk (1929, black ink and watercolor, 28x40cm)
Sailing Ships (1931, 22x29cm) The River (1940) The Bicycle Race (1912)
Gelmerode Zirchow I (1912, 80x100cm)
Storm Brewing (1939, 48x77cm) _ (detail) — Bridge
Diedon 17 July 1903: James
Abbott McNeill Whistler, painter and etcher born in
the US on 14 July 1834, who lived mostly as an expatriate and died in London.
Whistler’s position in the history of British art is as paradoxical as his personality: flamboyant dandy and wit, he was also a serious craftsman, tirelessly dedicated to the perfection of his art. Having learned much from his French and English contemporaries, he nevertheless emerged as an isolated figure who attracted followers but established no leading style.
He is noted for his paintings of nocturnal London, for his striking and stylistically advanced full-length portraits, and for his brilliant etchings and lithographs. An articulate theorist about art, he did much to introduce modern French painting into England. His most famous work is Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1: The Artist's Mother (1872); popularly called Whistler's Mother.
Author of Ten O'Clock Lecture (1885) and The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (1890).
A caricature of Whistler
Whistler's students included Gwen John, Walter Greaves, Mortimer Menpes, Lawton Parker, David Ericson, and Harper Pennington.
Whistler assimilated Japanese art styles, made technical innovations, and championed modern art. Many regard him as preeminent among etchers.
Whistler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. He entered the United States
Military Academy at West Point in 1851, did not do well in his studies,
and left in 1854 to take a job as a draftsman with the U.S. Coast Survey.
One year later he left the United States and went to Paris, where he became
a pupil of the Swiss classicist painter Charles Gabriel Gleyre. Formal
instruction influenced him less, however, than his acquaintance with the
French realist painter Gustave Courbet, other leading contemporary artists,
and his own study of the great masters and of Japanese styles.
US-born Whistler was active mainly in England. He spent several of his childhood years in Russia (where his father had gone to work as a civil engineer) and was an inveterate traveller. His training as an artist began indirectly when, after his discharge from West Point Military Academy for `deficiency in chemistry', he learnt etching as a US navy cartographer. In 1855 he went to Paris, where he studied intermittently under Gleyre, made copies in the Louvre, acquired a lasting admiration for Velázquez, and became a devotee of the cult of the Japanese print and oriental art and decoration in general. Through his friend Fantin-Latour he met Courbet, whose Realism inspired much of his early work. The circles in which he moved can be gauged from Fantin-Latour's Homage to Delacroix, in which Whistler is portrayed alongside Baudelaire, Manet, and others. He settled in London in 1859, but often returned to France. His At the Piano (Taft Museum, Cincinnati, 1859) was well received at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1860 and he soon made a name for himself, not just because of his talent, but also on account of his flamboyant personality. He was famous for his wit and dandyism, and loved controversy. His life-style was lavish and he was often in debt. Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Oscar Wilde were among his famous friends.
Whistler's art is in many respects the opposite to his often aggressive personality, being discreet and subtle, but the creed that lay behind it was radical. He believed that painting should exist for its own sake, not to convey literary or moral ideas, and he often gave his pictures musical titles to suggest an analogy with the abstract art of music: `Art should be independent of all claptrap-- should stand alone, and appeal to the artistic sense of eye or ear, without confounding this with emotions entirely foreign to it, as devotion, pity, love, patriotism, and the like. All these have no kind of concern with it, and that is why I insist on calling my works ``arrangements'' and ``harmonies''.' He was a laborious and self-critical worker, but this is belied by the flawless harmonies of tone and color he created in his paintings, which are mainly portraits and landscapes, particularly scenes of the Thames. No less original was his work as a decorative artist, notably in the Peacock Room (1876-77) for the London home of the Liverpool shipping magnate Frederick Leyland, where attenuated decorative patterning anticipated much in the Art Nouveau style of the 1890s.
In 1877 Ruskin denounced Whistler's Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket , accusing him of `flinging a pot of paint in the public's face', and Whistler sued him for libel. He won the action, but the awarding of only a farthing's damages with no costs was in effect a justification for Ruskin, and the expense of the trial led to Whistler's bankruptcy in 1879. His house was sold and he spent a year in Venice (1879-80), concentrating on the etchings-- among the masterpieces of 19th-century graphic art-- that helped to restore his fortunes when he returned to London. He made a happy marriage in 1888 to Beatrix Godwin, widow of the architect E.W. Godwin, with whom Whistler had collaborated, but she died only eight years later. In his fifties Whistler began to achieve honors and substantial success. His portrait of Thomas Carlyle was bought by the Corporation of Glasgow in 1891 for 1000 guineas and soon afterwards his most famous work, Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (1871), was bought by the French state and he was made a member of the Légion d'Honneur.
A key figure in British aestheticism and international modernism, Whistler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. His father was a civil engineer who accepted a position on the Russian railroad in 1842, and Whistler began his art training in St Petersburg. In 1851 he entered the US Military Academy at West Point, from which he was expelled in 1854 for deficiency in chemistry. Later that year he accepted a position in the drawing division of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, Washington DC, staying only a few months. He moved to Paris for further art training, including a period in the studio of the neoclassical painter Charles Gleyre. In September of 1857, he visited the Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester, where he saw works by Vel´zquez, as well as contemporary British painters. In 1858 he became friends with Henri Fantin-Latour and the two artists, along with Alphonse Legros, formed the Société des Trois. Whistler settled in London in 1859 and began work on his 'Thames Set' of etchings.
the winter of 1861-1862, Whistler returned to Paris, where he painted Symphony
in White, No. I: The White Girl. This painting was rejected for
the Royal Academy exhibition of 1862, but 'The Coast of Brittany' and 'The
Thames in Ice' were accepted. That summer he met Dante Gabriel Rossetti
and the critic Algernon Swinburne, and in late December he moved to Chelsea.
In 1863 The White Girl was rejected by the Paris Salon and exhibited
at the Salon des Refusés, where it drew much attention. In 1864 Whistler
began his Japonisme inspired works, including Symphony
in White, No.2: The Little White Girl which was exhibited at the
Royal Academy the following year. In late 1865 he went to the seaside town
of Trouville, where the French painter Gustave Courbet was also working.
He continued painting seascapes at Valparaiso, Chile, in March 1866, returning
to England later that year. In the spring of 1867 Symphony in White,
No.3, the first of his works to be exhibited with a musical title,
was shown at the Royal Academy. Over the next three decades he produced
a number of portraits, including Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait
of the Painter's Mother.
In the early 1870s he began his series of ethereal landscapes entitled Nocturnes. Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket caused a controversy when exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877: the critic John Ruskin accused Whistler of insolence for charging "two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." Whistler responded by charging Ruskin with libel. The ensuing trial of November 1878 involved many of the major figures of the Victorian art world: William Powell Frith and Edward Burne-Jones testified on Ruskin's behalf, while Albert Moore and William Michael Rossetti suppored Whistler. Whistler won the trial and was awarded one farthing in damages.
In September 1879, Whistler travelled to Venice, commissioned by the Fine Art Society to produce a set of etchings. He returned to London in November 1880, where he exhibited his Venetian prints and pastels in a series of exhibitions at the Fine Art Society. He met his pupil and assistant Walter Sickert in 1882. In 1884 he was made a member of the Society of British Artists, elected president in June 1886 and resigned in June 1888. In the 1880s and 1890s, he exhibited widely in Europe, including the Société des XX, Brussels, and the International Kunst-Ausstellung, Munich.
He married Beatrice Godwin in August 1888, abandoning his mistress Maude Franklin, with whom he had a child in 1879. He was awarded the ribbon of Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in September 1889. In 1890, he met Charles Freer, who formed an important collection of Whistler's work. In 1891 the Corporation of Glasgow acquired the portrait of Carlyle, which became the first of Whistler's paintings to be purchased by a public collection. In 1898 he was elected president of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers. Whistler received numerous awards at international exhibitions in the last decade of his life.
James Abbott McNeil Whistler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the son of an army officer who had become an engineer and traveled widely in the exercise of his profession. From 1842 to 1849, the family lived mostly in St. Petersburg, Russia. Whistler took his first at lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts there.
On the death of his father in 1849, Whistler went back to America. In 1851 he enrolled at West Point Military Academy, but three years later he was dismissed (He failed chemistry). He worked for some time in Washington for the United States Coast and Geodetic Service, in which he received a useful training in etching. In 1855 he left America, never to return, and went to Paris to study art under Gleyre. There he knew Courbet, Manet, Monet, Degas, and Fantin-Latour.
The Pre-raphaelite movement was well under way when the Salon des Refusés took place in 1863. One of the most detested pictures in that exhibition was Whistler's The White Girl. The painting, which Whistler preferred to call Symphony in White No.1 is one of the fine pictures of nascent impressionism, and there is no good explanation as to why Whistler at this point abandoned Paris to continue his career in England. Certainly it was not because he was wounded by the reception of The White Girl or because he feared a good fight. For the rest of his life he was one of the liveliest scrappers in London.
Without adopting Pre-Raphaelitism he became a fixture in the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic circle and that of the younger men, like Oscar Wilde, who carried Pre-Raphaelite aestheticism on into the 1890's with even more precious and immensely more sophisticated variations. He knew the poet Swinburne and the novelist and critic George Moore, he became a great dandy and famous wit, a bright figure among the creative talents and their admiring circle who continued the Pre-Raphaelite revolt against the materialism and stuffiness of the Victorian age.
an impressionist, Whistler never adopted the broken strokes and the sunlit
effects developed by his former French associates. He worked instead more
and more in a muted palette of grays and blacks, softly blended, painting
the misty tonalities of evening or gray days, sometimes flecked or splashed
with red or golden lights, with strong reference to Japanese prints or Oriental
ink-wash drawings with there simplification and their subtle, colorless
gradations. Ruskin, who had understood Turner's art when he was a young
man, was unable to accept Whistler's now that he was an aging professor.
He was so infuriated by Whistler's Falling Rocket, Nocturne in Black
and Gold, a picture which might have delighted Turner, that he wrote,
"I have seen, and heard, much of cockney impudence before now; but never
expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of
paint in the public's face." Whistler sued Ruskin for libel, as much for
the sport of it as for any reason, and after a well-publicized trail was
awarded damages of one farthing. Poor Ruskin suffered a mental breakdown
the following year (1878) and for the remaining miserable twenty-two years
of his life was removed from the critical scene while Whistler continued
to send up rockets.
In Venice from 1879 to 1880, he produced a series of pastels and etchings. The prints, which have the shimmering light of the city for their subject, are an original contribution to graphic art. When Whistler returned to London he was gradually able to sell his work, but the encounter with Ruskin had bankrupted him and he returned a bitter man and the less pleasant, caustic side of his nature emerged. He had always been vain and opinionated, considering the artist to be above normal criticism. Now his doctrine "art for art's sake" became an obsession. The style of his wit resembled that of his much younger acquaintance Oscar Wilde, though in a more barbed and personal vein.
Whistler painted comparatively little in the last 20 years of his life. In 1888 he married Mrs. Godwin, a friend he had long admired. For some years they lived in Paris. The Portrait of the Artist's Mother was bought for the French nation in 1891. Whistler was made an officer of the Legion of Honor, and one of his lectures called "Ten o'Clock" was translated into French. Two years after his wife's death in 1896, he opened the short-lived Academie Whistler in Paris. By 1902, a sick man, he began to destroy the drawings and paintings he thought unsatisfactory. He died in London in 1903.
Whistler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. He spent five years of his childhood (1843-1848) in St. Petersburg, Russia, where his father, George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), a railroad engineer, was employed in the building of the St. Petersburg-Moscow railroad. The artist’s mother, Anna Matilda McNeill, was a devout Christian, whom he admired all his life. In his early manhood he exchanged his middle name ‘Abbott’ for her maiden name ‘McNeill’. In St. Petersburg young James received his first art lessons in the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and also learnt French.
In 1849, Major Whistler died and his wife decided to bring her family to their homeland, setting at Pomfret, Connecticut, where James attended the local school until, in 1851, he entered West Point, the famous military academy. West Point at the time was an exclusive school, to which cadets were selected by congressmen. No doubt that the fact that his father had trained at West Point secured Whistler’s entry. Never becoming a military man, Whistler remembered the three years spent at the academy with affection. Among all subjects Whistler succeeded only in drawing, special difficulties were caused by chemistry, which at last became the reason of his ejection from the academy. ‘Had silicon been a gas,’ He later declared, ’I would have been a general-major’.
West Point was followed by a brief period of employment in the United States Geodetic and Coast Survey offices in Washington. In 1855, Whistler arrived in Paris, the artistic capital of Europe, with the intention of becoming an artist.
The art of Gustave Courbet (1819-77) attracted his attention and admiration, but in his choice of teacher Whistler was very conventional. After a short period at the École Impériale et Spéciale de Dessin, he enrolled at the studio of Charles-Gabriel Gleyre (1806-74). At Gleyre’s, Whistler became part of the ‘Paris Gang’, a group of young English artists that included Edward Poynter (1836-1919), later president of the Royal Academy, Thomas Armstrong (1832-1911), Thomas Lamont (1826-98) and George du Maurier (1834-96).
In 1858, Whistler set out on a tour of Alsace-Lorraine and the Rhineland, during which he made a set of etchings Twelve Etchings from Nature, better known as the French Set. Praise of the work encouraged Whistler to continue etching. Between 1858 and 1863 he produced 80 plates, Rotherhithe (1860), among them. In 1859, Whistler set to work on his first major painting, At the Piano, his first masterpiece, which marked the end of his student years and the onset of artistic independence. The work was rejected by the Salon. The same year Whistler moved to London, which remained his base of operations until 1892. From there Whistler made frequent visits abroad. In 1861 he started to work on Symphony in White No.1: The White Girl. The model was his mistress, Jo. Symphony in White No.1 came closest in mood to Pre-Raphaelitism. Later, in 1863, Whistler became acquainted with the Pre-Raphaelite group.
1866, Whistler traveled to South America where the Chileans were engaged
in a war against Spain, he kept a journal of naval and military developments
but avoided involvement in any fighting.
In 1877, Whistler began to paint a series of ‘Nocturnes’ based on the Thames views at night. One of his most famous works in this series in Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge, originally called ‘Moonlights’. His patron, Frederick Leyland, an enthusiastic pianist, suggested the term ‘Nocturne’. Whistler replied, ‘I can’t thank you too much for the name Nocturne as the title for my Moonlights. You have no idea what an irritation it proves to the critics, and consequent pleasure to me; besides it is really so charming, and does so poetically say all I want to say and no more than I wish.’
Critics were outraged. John Ruskin, when seeing Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket and other night scenes at the opening exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877, broke out in print: ‘I have seen and heard much of Cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face’. Whistler sued Ruskin for libel and won the trial. Whistler was awarded a farthing damages; his feelings on the subject are embodied in the Gentle Art of Making Enemies (1890).
In the meantime Whistler started, in 1876, the decoration of the famous Peacock Room in the London house of his patron, Frederick Leyland. In the end, the artist and the patron quarreled bitterly over the room, and the quarrel grew into deep hatred. The loss of Leyland as a patron and the effect of Ruskin’s harsh criticism left Whistler in a bad financial position. In 1879, Whistler was declared bankrupt and left for Venice for the next 14 months. During that stay in Venice, he produced four oils, many etchings and almost 100 pastels.
Aside from portraits, Whistler was much occupied in the 1880s with small seascapes in watercolor and in oil. Gray and Silver: Mist - Lifeboat.
After two successful one-exhibitions at Dowdeswells in 1884 and 1886, Whistler’s reputation steadily began to mount. In 1884, he was invited to become a member of the Society of British Artists and two years later was elected its president.
In 1886, Whistler painted Harmony in Red: Lamplight. Portrait of Mrs. Beatrice Godwin. Her husband died in 1886 and two years later she became Whistler’s wife. The daughter of the sculptor John Bernie Philip, she was also an artist in her own right and Whistler frequently turned to her for advice while painting his portraits. With Beatrice, Whistler moved to Paris in 1892. She died four years later, in 1896. In the lithograph The Siesta Mrs. Beatrice Whistler is shown already mortally ill.
Meanwhile Whistler’s reputation had soared. In 1891, Arrangement in Grey and Black No 1: The Artist’s Mother was acquired by the French State and that same year Glasgow Corporation paid a thousand guineas for the Portrait of Thomas Carlyle. Having exhibited at several important international exhibitions, Whistler was awarded honors by Munich, Amsterdam and Paris. Whistler died in London.
Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans (1878) Symphony in White N.1: The White Girl _ The model for this picture was Whistler’s mistress, Joanna Hiffernan, called Jo. For a few years, this beautiful, red-haired Irishwoman managed Whistler’s affairs, keeping his house and assisting him with the sale of his work. To give herself respectability, she called herself Mrs. Abbott; her drunken father also referred to Whistler as ‘me son-in-law’. She sat for many of his pictures, including Caprice in Purple and Gold No 2 - The Golden Screen. Wapping Purple and Rose: The Lange Lijzen of the Six Marks. Symphony in White No 2: The Little White Girl. and others.
Whistler introduced Jo to Courbet, who also responded to her beauty and painted her combing her hair in The Beautiful Irish Girl, of which four versions exist, one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Later, in 1866, she posed as one of the two nude women in Courbet’s Sleepers (Petit Palais, Paris), a fact that may have contributed to Whistler’s decision to break with her.
By 1869, Jo had been replaced by Louisa Fanny Hanson, about whom little is known except that the following year she bore Whistler a son (christened Charles James Whistler Hanson) and then disappeared, leaving the son to be adopted and raised by Jo
Symphony in White N.2: The Little White Girl
Symphony in White N.3: The Two White Girls
Rose et Argent: La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine _ The model for the picture was Christine Spartali, daughter of a rich Greek merchant, later the Greek Consul-General in London, Michael Spartali. Symphony in Grey and Green: The Ocean Wapping (Wapping is an area of London E~1 bordering on the Thames, where there used to be docks) Valparaiso The Thames in Ice The Sweet Shop At the Piano Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket
Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander _ Cicely Alexander was the second daughter of the London banker and art collector W.C. Alexander, who commissioned Whistler to paint portraits of his two daughters. Whistler designed the dress for the portrait.
Arrangement in Grey and Black Nº 2: Thomas Carlyle
Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1: Portrait of the Artist's Mother _ Whistler took three months, over the summer of 1871 to complete this portrait of Anna Matilda McNeill. In November 1891, the portrait was bought by France largely thanks to Whistler’s French friends, Duret, Mallarmé, and Roger Marx. Whistler’s most famous work became a universal symbol of motherhood, in its representation on a stamp to commemorate Mother’s Day in the US in 1934.
Pierrot (1889) The Pier: A Grey Note (1884, 9x15cm)
The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor) (1879, 187x140cm)
100 prints at FAMSF .