James Abbott McNeill Whistler

1 portrait

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, by Sir (John) Bernard Partridge, late 1880s - NPG 3541 - © reserved; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

© reserved; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

by Sir (John) Bernard Partridge
watercolour, late 1880s
10 3/8 in. x 5 3/8 in. (264 mm x 137 mm)
Given by Mrs L.M. Lamont, 1947
Primary Collection
NPG 3541


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Partridge published several caricatures of Whistler in the 1880s and probably made this highly finished drawing towards the end of the decade, showing him in full dandified rig, wearing a monocle and buttonhole and holding the ubiquitous cigarette. The monochrome colour scheme and visible paint washes are a tribute to Whistler's radical artistic style, best known through his 'Nocturnes'. Beside his own signature Partridge also includes Whistler's symbol of a butterfly with a stinger, representing the artist's double-edged character as summarised by William Merritt Chase: 'The fop, the cynic, the brilliant, flippant, vain and careless idler...the earnest, tireless, sombre worker, a very slave to his art...' The inscription reads: 'Drawn in late 'eighties, when the / artist has [sic] been in the same room as Whistler for half an hour. only.'.

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