I, James McNeill Whistler
Rarely have subject and style been so entertainingly fused as in this portrait of the incomparable, indomitable painter James McNeill Whistler. Meticulously accurate and as wonderfully detailed as if the great master had really recounted it himself, this purported "autobiography" is charged with the same immense gaiety and elan that made Whistler such a fascinating and controversial personality of his time. From Whistler's early artistic beginnings in Paris-he was an American expatriate whose intended military career had been cut short when he was discharged from West Point for failing chemistry-the book crackles with excitement. Caught up in the company of the great Impressionists (and keeping even closer company with his beautiful model-mistress), he soon moves on to his fantastic and swashbuckling career in London. Here, his unshakable confidence that he was always right (and his critics always wrong), won him even more notoriety than his frequent art triumphs. He had warm and admiring friends, like Rossetti; he had fierce enemies who despised his work, like the outstanding Establishment art critic of the day, John Ruskin. The climax of the book is reached in the incredible lawsuit which Whistler brought-and argued himself when it came to trial-against Ruskin, who had mercilessly ridiculed his painting "Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket". Whistler is nearly as well known for his performance in court on this occasion as he is for the almost accidental painting that earned him his greatest renown, "Arrangement in Gray and Black," known popularly as "Whistler's Mother." Illustrated with photographs, drawings, and reproductions of Whistler's paintings, this remarkably salty "autobiography" is as flamboyant and bigorous as the life of the legendary James McNeill Whistler himself.
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