Whistler’s Mother by James Whistler

The location of this iconic portrait keeps on changing and is kept in different cities worldwide and it is known to be one of the famous artworks of all time.

The oil painting- “Whistler’s Mother”, by James McNeill Whistler, is also known as “Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother”.

This oil in canvas piece is currently owned by Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Until this very day, people are still in amazement whenever this painting crosses their eyes as it graces their country’s museum and it has brought a whole new outlook to what art meant for the artist.

This beautiful portrait measures 56.8 inches by 63.9 inches and is dedicated to Whistler’s mother.

This piece of art is a portrait of James McNeill Whistler’s mother, Anna McNeill Whistler while they were in London in 1871.

From a far look, the portrait looks just like any other regular works of art made of a model, but it on the closer look, the effort that the artist put in the painting of his mother is seen quite well. Whistler has done a good deal to prevent us from seeing the picture as an image of motherhood.

The subject, of course, is a Caucasian woman (in fact, Whistler’s mother), but we do not see her with a child or with grandchildren, and we do not even see her engaged in some sort of action that might suggest motherhood, let’s say setting the table or hanging out the clothes to dry.

Rather, she is alone, and motionless. She does not even look in our direction. Because we see her in profile, she seems somewhat aloof, taking no notice of others, hardly a quality we associate with motherliness.

It was believed that James’ model was not able to constrain to the job and it was during this time that James decided to paint his mother’s portrait. There were a lot of experimentation before the creation of this famous painting. James Whistler wanted his mother to pose for him stood up but it was too tedious for her.

It was in his this painting that Whistler was able to express his flair in tonal composition and harmony. At first glance the painting appears simple and artless.

However, upon closer observation, the artwork, without a doubt, portrays a balance and steadiness between different shapes and forms in the picture. Whistler was able to achieve synchronization in the composition of this artwork.

He was able to use the right rectangular shape for the picture on the wall, the floor and on the curtains. The result of this was a better and stable view of his mother’s face, dress and chair.

This painting received mixed reactions from different artists and art critics during its time. It was said that the colours and pose of Whistler’s mother were a symbolism of “a grave sentiment of mourning”. This critique may have come from the dark colours that the artist used to create the piece. Today, “Whistler’s Mother” has proved to be one of the most famous paintings in history.

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