Whistler and His Mother: An Extraordinary Relationship

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9781903933282: Whistler and His Mother: An Extraordinary Relationship
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James McNeill Whistler was the most flamboyant and controversial painter of his generation. Oscar Wilde. Proust, Monet and Manet belonged to his circle of friends and acquaintances. With his succession of mistresses, quick wit and flawed genius, he led a chaotic life. He turned out his long-standing girl friend when his mother came from America to live with him in Chelsea; after finding a maid 'posing for the all-over' she kept away from his studio. The suddenly from his uneasy cohabitation a touching masterpiece appeared. Alongside Leonardo's Mona Lisa and Boticelli's Birth of Venus it became one of the best-known female images in the world. When Sarah Walden was asked to restore the painting of the 'Mother' for the Louvre she became fascinated by the crisis in the artists's life which inspired it. Few of the myths surrounding the picture and its sitter, she discovered turned out to be true. Anna Whistler, devoted to her son, was not a stern authority figure: she defined her son's relationship with women. As Whistler was obsessively secretive about the picture, the theory about its creation had to teased from many different sources. In Whistler and Hos Mother, Sarah Walden has done far more than capture an exceptional mother-son relationship; her detective like findings weave biography, history and aesthetics into a seamless whole.

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Product Description:

A greater contrast between Whistler's outrageously flamboyant life - he was famously a friend of Oscar Wilde and Dante Gabriel Rossetti - and the subdued, touchingly melancholic style of the painting of his Puritan mother is hard to imagine. Painted in 1871, at the height of the Victorian age of family values, Whistler gave the painting the provocative modernist title "Arrangement in Grey and Black". While restoring the painting for the Louvre, Sarah Walden was intrigued by its extraordinary and complex history which has hitherto never been fully uncovered. Delving deep in sources not available in the UK, she wrote this book of its complex birth which reads like a detective story. Her view of restoration (for which she received the support of Ernst Gombrich) is that it is more than a technical job, involving an aesthetic and historical approach.

About the Author:

Sarah Walden studied art history and is one of the world's leading restorers of old masters and an outspoken critic of work. She restored Whistler's Mother for the Louvre and while researching the work was captivated by the work's intricate history. Her previous book, The Ravished Image, was published by Weidenfeld with a foreword by Gombrich.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780803248113: Whistler and His Mother: An Unexpected Relationship: Secrets of an American Masterpiece

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ISBN 10:  0803248113 ISBN 13:  9780803248113
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press, 2003
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