Description of the painting by James Whistler "Portrait of a Mother"

Description of the painting by James Whistler

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"Portrait of a Mother" is one of Whistler's most recognizable works. Currently, the canvas is stored in the Orsay Museum in Paris. The portrait was painted in 1871. The first exhibition at which it could be seen by the audience took place in 1872 in London.

As you might guess, the portrait depicts the painter's mother, Anna McNeill Whistler. The canvas is penetrated by deep psychologism. The hunched dark figure of an elderly woman looks at one point, sitting on a chair and clasped her hands in her lap. She is dressed in a black dress to the floor, a bright cap, clutching a scarf in her hands.

Not only the heroine speaks to us, but also the surroundings: the curtains, the picture on the wall are worked out to the smallest detail. There is no single version of creating a picture.

There are two options: either the artist’s mother should have become the model from the very beginning, but she posed while sitting, because she could not stand. Or another option: initially in its place should have been a completely different model, at the last moment refusing to pose for Whistler, and then he invited his mother.

What is the meaning of the picture? For a long time it was believed that the picture is a symbol of the so-called cult of the mother, but Whistler himself did not want it. He wanted his works to be evaluated first of all for their form and only secondly for their content and the meaning behind them. Once, arguing with Reskin, who criticized his work, Whistler said that he wanted to receive a fee not for the two days that he spent on painting, but for the time that he spent working and learning his skills and mastery.

What is curious, “Portrait of Mother” has appeared more than once in various films and series, and even cartoons: the well-known series about Mr. Bean, in separate episodes of The Simpsons, in C. Porter’s musical “Anything Goes”, and in “The Naked Gun” "In general, you can see a birthmark in the shape of Whistler's Mother.

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Watch the video: Spotlight Lecture: Whistler: A Life for Arts Sake (August 2022).