The American-born artist James McNeill Whistler (1934-1903) was hugely influential in the Victorian art world, his work the subject of vigorous debate. Best known for his atmospheric Nocturnes of the River Thames and his rejection of the idea that art should tell a story, he preferred instead to give his pictures musical titles. Radical in his recognition of the decorative principles of Eastern art, Whistler created astonishing works that prefigured many of the concerns of modernism.
This new account of Whistler's art shows how profoundly influenced he was by the poetry and literature of the time. The famous libel trial with Ruskin is discussed, and, for the first time, many of his paintings are illustrated in the original frames created by the artist. Robin Spencer's welcome reassessment underlines Whistler's status as a key artist of the modern age.