James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) was one of the most original artists of the late nineteenth century. Flamboyant dandy and ebullient publicist, friend of Oscar Wilde, Whistler was also a meticulous craftsman dedicated to the perfection of his art. Whistler was born in America but trained in Paris. He began as a realist painter but gradually developed a startlingly original method of composition, refining his technique to the barest essentials. He was one of the first to argue that the abstract ingredients of a painting - the lines, shapes colours and tones - could in themselves be the subjects; he entitled the portrait of his mother Arrangement in Grey and Black.
This book provides a wide survey of carefully selected works, illustrated with 48 full-page colour plates and accompanying notes, making it an ideal introduction to Whistler's art. Frances Spalding is an art historian and critic and writes regularly for the Burlington Magazine and the Times Literary Supplement. Her publications include Dance till the Stars Come Down: A Biography of John Minton (1991), Duncan Grant (1997) and The Tate: A History (1998).