James Abbott McNeil Whistler - Alderney Street

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James Abbott McNeil Whistler (1834-1903) Born in Massachusetts, of Scottish-Irish ancestry. As a boy, he spent some time in Russia at St. Petersburg, where his father was a civil engineer; after a short stay in England, he was back in the United States by 1849. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, but he soon abandoned the army for art. Whistler spent part of his career abroad, in England and France. He was drawn to the French modern movement, responding to the realism associated with the painters Gustave CourbetHenri Fantin-Latour, and François Bonvin, all of whom he knew. He is well known for his etchings, which won him much success in London.  During the 1860s Whistler moved between England and Paris. He also visited Brittany and the coast near Biarritz, where he painted with Courbet. An articulate theorist about art, he did much to introduce modern French painting into England, being noted for his paintings of nocturnal London. He was also a consummate full-length portrait painter. His etchings are brilliant as we see here in Alderney Street, c. 1881, depicting a typical busy day on a popular street in London. His most famous work is Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (c. 1871; also called Whistler’s Mother.)
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