James Abbott McNeill Whistler

individual
Life Dates
1834 - 1903
Nationality
British
Artist Biography
James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903) was an American-born, British-based artist. His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger for a tail. The symbol was apt, for it combined both aspects of his personality—his art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative. Finding a parallel between painting and music, Whistler titled many of his paintings "arrangements", "harmonies", and "nocturnes", emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony. His most famous painting is the iconic Whistler's Mother, the revered and oft parodied portrait of motherhood. A wit, dandy, and shameless self-promoter, Whistler influenced the art world and the broader culture of his time with his artistic theories and his friendships with leading artists and writers.