4.16.2014

My Favorite Whistler


My Favorite Whistler

I first viewed works by James McNeill Whistler when I was young, 
during an early trip to Washington, D.C. At the time, I knew only 
of a painting of an old woman sitting in a rocking chair called 
"Whistler's Mother", and this because it was so often made fun of 
in Saturday morning cartoons. Whistler, therefore, sat on a level of 
serious artness matching that of Bugs and Yosemite Sam. 
Developing an early strong appreciation for art, the trip to DC 
exposed the real Whistler to me. Unfortunately I found many portraits 
by Whistler to be heavily dark, mostly black paint it seemed -- 
not so appealing to a youngster. 

However, Whistler's "Symphony In White No. 1: The White Girl" 
was just the opposite, whites-on-whites, bright and welcoming in 
windowless gallery. I fell in love with it and, after purchasing 
a small inexpensive printed poster in the museum's gift shop, 
the White Girl became a fixture of my life, this paper reprint adorning 
dorm rooms, apartments, and bedrooms. It's most significant spot, 
though, was in my childhood home, hanging just above my mom's 
electric console organ. Though in a cheap dime-store frame and 
rather small for the area of bare wall it inhabited, for me it was the 
dominating focus of the room.

So the White Girl has history with me. Have you ever seen the painting? 
If chance finds you in Washington, I suggest that you seek out and take 
a long look at "Symphony In White No. 1: The White Girl".

Mr. Whistler's mother will be glad you did.



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