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American, 19th century, male.

Active in England and in France.

Born 10 July 1834, in Lowell (Massachusetts); died 17 July 1903 , in London.

Painter, pastellist, watercolourist, etcher, draughtsman, lithographer, decorative designer, writer, collector. Genre scenes, portraits, landscapes.

Japonisme, Aesthetic movement.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s father, Major George Whistler, came from an old Dutch family. As a military engineer, he accepted a job that took him to Russia to work on the St Petersburg-Moscow railway line, and his son, still a child, went with him. George Whistler remained in Russia until his death in 1849, after which his widow, Anna McNeill (who was of Scottish origin), returned to the United States with her son. Whistler devoted himself to drawing, while at the same time working to enter West Point Military Academy; he succeeded in 1851, but he was of an independent nature and it was not long before he decided to give up a military career. He found employment as a draughtsman for the US Coast and Geodetic Survey in Washington, DC, and it was at this time that he executed his first etchings. Here too, however, the constraints of bureaucracy sat ill with him, and he resigned his position in 1855 to open a studio in Washington. He then left the United States and settled in Europe, working in London and in Paris. In 1856, he joined Charles Gleyre’s studio, where he was a fellow pupil and friend of Edgar Degas, Alphonse Legros, Félix Bracquemond, and especially Henri Fantin-Latour....