Obelisk Art History

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1

James McNeill Whistler, 1871
Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1, James McNeill Whistler
Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1, zoomed in
144.3 cmArrangement in Grey and Black No.1 scale comparison162.4 cm
See Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 in the Kaleidoscope

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 is a Realist Oil on Canvas Painting created by James McNeill Whistler in 1871. It lives at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The image is in the Public Domain, and tagged Mothers, Family and Portraits. SourceDownload

Yes, this artwork is also known as Whistler’s Mother.

James Whistler was a notorious formalist, who’s pursuit of art for art’s sake led to his portraiture taking on monumental form. Here, his mother blurs the line between foreground and background in a strict composition of right angles, mirrored by her frighteningly severe expression. The piece’s formal title, Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1, expressly defines the work as an art object, rather than a representation of a specific person. Naturally, this confused and perturbed its Victorian era audience, so Whistler consented to a subtitle: Portrait of the Painter’s mother. Either way, this woman was clearly not to be trifled with.

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