Saturday, July 5, 2008


Born: July 10, 1834
Lowell, Massachusetts
Died: July 17, 1903
London, England

American painter and etcher

The American painter, etcher, and lithographer James Whistler created a new set of principles for the fine arts, championed art for art’s sake, and introduced a subtle style of painting in which atmosphere and mood were the main focus.

Early life

James Abbott McNeill Whistler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on July 10, 1834, the son of Major George Whistler, a railroad engineer, and Anna McNeill. In 1842 Czar Nicholas I (1796–1855) of Russia invited Major Whistler to build a railroad from St. Petersburg to Moscow and offered the princely salary of twelve thousand dollars a year. In St. Petersburg the family lived luxuriously, with several servants, and James and his brother had a governess and a Swedish tutor. Because French was the court language, the boys soon became fluent in it. On one occasion the Whistlers took a trip fifteen miles out of St. Petersburg to Tsarkoe Selo. Here, in the palace built by Catherine the Great (1729–1896), there was a suite of apartments in the Chinese style containing many fine examples of Oriental porcelain. James was fascinated by this collection and later became a collector of blue-and-white porcelain.


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