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Artichive: “Whistler’s Mother”

Artichive: “Whistler’s Mother”

James Abbott McNeill Whistler painted this canvas titled “Arrangement in Grey and Black, No 1” oil on canvas, 56.8 inches × 63.9 inches in 1871; it is popularly known as “Whistler’s Mother”. It is famously regarded as an American icon and a Victorian Mona Lisa. Anna McNeill Whistler posed as a model while she was living in London with the artist. It became the first American painting ever acquired by the French state and is considered the most important work by the US artist which is exhibiting outside the country. The image has been used since the Victorian era, especially in the United States as an icon for motherhood.

“Whistler’s Mother” implies the pinnacle of the artist’s unusual method of using tones of single colours. The paint looks soft, almost fuzzy and there is some dazzling brushwork where Anna’s lace-cuffed hands clutch a handkerchief. The canvas is exhibited at Musee d’Orsay, Paris. E.J.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, March 20th, 2016

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