James Abbott McNeill Whistler
James Abbott McNeill Whistler
by Percy Thomas, after James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Purchased with help from the Friends of the National Libraries and the Pilgrim Trust, 1966
Sitterback to top
- James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Painter and etcher. Sitter in 15 portraits, Artist or producer associated with 4 portraits.
Artistsback to top
Linked publicationsback to top
- Rideal, Liz, Insights: Self-portraits, 2005, p. 61 Read entry
This print is based on Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey: Portrait of the Painter (c.1872; Detroit Institute of Arts). There are at least twenty different forms of his signature: here the butterfly motif occurs on a horizon line behind the artist. He repeats this format in Arrangement in Grey and Black, no.2: Thomas Carlyle (1872-3; Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries). Whistler’s first dated butterfly was drawn in 1869 and was derived from a monogram of his initials. Monogram signatures are more common than symbolic motifs, and became particularly fashionable with Art Nouveau artists o f the nineteenth century.
Events of 1874back to top
Current affairsDisraeli becomes Prime Minister for the second time, winning the general election and giving the Conservative party its first absolute majority since the 1840s.
Professional opportunities for women develop, with the opening of the London School of Economics to women, the foundation of the London School of Medicine for Women and the Women's Protective and Provident League.
Art and scienceThe Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc., including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro organise an exhibition in Paris. Art critic Louis Leroy gives the group its name, criticising Monet's Impression, Sunrise for being merely an unfinished 'impression'. Impressionism becomes recognisable for techniques such as short, broken brushstrokes barely conveying forms, pure unblended colours, and an emphasis on the effects of light.
InternationalBritain annexes the Gold Coast, the region on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, now the independent nation of Ghana, following the second Ashanti war. The Treaty of Fomena secured massive financial reparations for the British, and strengthened their hold on the prosperous resources and trade routes in the regions. However, weakening the Ashanti tribe greatly destabilised the area.
Visit From Your Armchair
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
An online exhibition celebrating the very best in contemporary portrait photography.
Explore our community photography project, which presents a personal record of the UK during lockdown.
Sculptures in 360°
See sculptures and fascinating objects from our Collection from all angles.
David Hockney: Drawing from Life
Watch highlights from our special exhibition, which had to close early in March 2020 due to lockdown.
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints
Choose your favourite portrait from our Collection as a framed or unframed print for your home.