James Abbott McNeill Whistler
- Extended Catalogue Entry
James Abbott McNeill Whistler
by Unknown photographer
platinum print, Summer 1885
7 in. x 4 5/8 in. (178 mm x 118 mm)
Sitterback to top
- James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Painter and etcher. Sitter in 15 portraits, Artist associated with 4 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 109 Read entry
Restless, volatile and eccentric, the American Impressionist painter Whistler, who chose as his emblem the butterfly, came to London in 1859 and settled in Chelsea in 1863. This photograph was taken in the garden of his studio in the Fulham Road in the summer of 1885, when he and his fellow-American William Merritt Chase were painting portraits of one another. Whistler's painting of Chase is lost, but it showed him 'full-length in frock coat and top hat, a cane held jauntily across his legs … the Masher of the Avenues'. In this photograph Whistler himself poses as a 'masher', a dandy and lady-killer, with his mahlstick under his arm, doing duty for a cane, perhaps in parody of his own painting.
In another photograph from this session Whistler appears with Chase and an artist friend, Mortimer Menpes, and it is possible that Menpes took both photographs.
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 657
Events of 1885back to top
Current affairsRedistribution Act; continues Gladstone's extensive package of electoral reform, although his Liberal government is later defeated when the Irish Nationalists, seeking support for Home Rule, side with the Conservatives over a budget measure. The Marquess of Salisbury is invited to form a 'caretaker' government.
Art and scienceThe Dictionary of National Biography is first published quarterly, under the editorship of Leslie Stephen, and sub-editorship of Sidney Lee. Volume 63 completed the work in 1900. Setting new standards in life writing, the DNB exemplified the form of the brief biography, formalising a style and approach to writing lives, based on Stephen's guiding principles of selection and presentation in 'business-like form'.
InternationalThe death of the famous General Charles Gordon sparks outrage in Britain. Sent to the Sudan to evacuate Egyptian forces from Khartoum, threatened by Sudanese rebels under Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi, Khartoum quickly came under siege, and Gordon is killed and beheaded two days before the relief force arrived. The British public proclaimed Gordon a martyr, and attacked government, particularly Gladstone, for not relieving British forces earlier.
Recommended Exhibitions & displays
- Photography: A Living Art - Then and Now
Until 29 September
- Artist - Whistler
- Mad, Bad and Dangerous: The Cult of Lord Byron
- George Augustus Sala
- The Royal Ballet at 75
- Lives and Letters
- Lillah McCarthy
- Portraits of John Nash
- Joseph Conrad
- Before Windrush: Images of Black and Asian Figures
- The Beautiful and the Damned
- Centenaries and Centenarians
- Keep The Home Fires Burning
- Rupert Brooke: War Poet
- Reaching for the stars: Astronomers in focus
- Jean Simmons: a life in pictures
- Shakespeare: Stage and Screen
- Rebel women