17

Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1​

Qr Code

original title

Portrait of the Artist's Mother

The artwork

date

1871

details

Oil, canvas

Realism
Portrait
162.5 x 144.3 cm

Links

The artist

James McNeill Whistler

July 10, 1834

American

Where to see it

Musée d’Orsay

Stories

“Proud mom”

Like all mothers and all sons.

"An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision."
James McNeill Whistler

Why we love it

This work became the first American work of art purchased by the French state and remains the most important American work to reside outside the United States.

The painting represents the apogee of Whistler’s radical method of modulating unique color tones with a simplicity that has captivated viewers for nearly 150 years. The artist began to give his paintings lyrical titles such as “Nocturne”, “Harmony” and “Symphony”, “Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1” being one of the earliest examples and one of the most famous.

Whistler’s mother becomes the “Victorian Mona Lisa”, “A mother is the most sacred thing there is” everyone has a mother, and almost half of everyone becomes a mother. It became a national icon for the traditional understanding of family values and a stamp was even issued with a stylized image of Whistler’s mother, with the motto “In memory and honor of the Mothers of America.”

Whistler’s mother, along with other great paintings, regardless of their artistic historical importance, beauty or monetary value, manages to immediately communicate meaning to almost everyone, democratizing culture by transcending the elitist sphere of the museum to the space of popular culture.

This is just our small contribution, your curiosity can do the rest.
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