James McNeill Whistler  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (July 11, 1834July 17, 1903) was an American-born, British-based painter and etcher. Averse to sentimentality in painting, he was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". He took to signing his paintings with a stylized butterfly, possessing a long stinger for a tail. The symbol was apt, for Whistler's art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, in contrast to his combative public persona.

Ruskin trial

In 1878 Whistler sued the critic John Ruskin for libel after the critic condemned his painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, writing:

For Mr. Whistler's own sake, no less than for the protection of the purchaser, Sir Coutts Lindsay [founder of the Grosvenor Gallery] ought not to have admitted works into the gallery in which the ill-educated conceit of the artist so nearly approached the aspect of willful imposture. 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

Though suing for one thousand pounds plus costs, Whistler won a mere farthing in nominal damages. The cost of the case, together with huge debts from building his residence, "The White House" in Tite Street, Chelsea, (designed with E. W. Godwin, 1877–8) bankrupted him.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "James McNeill Whistler" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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