Whistler

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A Life for Art's Sake

Daniel E. Sutherland

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A major new biography of James McNeill Whistler, one of most complex, intriguing, and important of America’s artists

This engaging personal history dispels the popular notion of James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) as merely a combative, eccentric, and unrelenting publicity seeker. The Whistler revealed in these beautifully illustrated pages is an intense, introspective, and complex man, plagued by self-doubt and haunted by an endless pursuit of perfection in his painting and drawing.
 
“[Sutherland] seeks to get behind the public Whistler . . . never judging or condescending to his subject. . . . The portrait of Whistler that emerges is complex and mysterious . . . a measured and scholarly account of an extraordinary life.”—Ruth Scurr, Wall Street Journal
 
“The first comprehensive biography of Whistler in at least a generation. . . . Sutherland skillfully captures Whistler’s ambition, tenacity, and insecurity and presents his life in a narrative that does justice to both his triumphs and his failures.”—Eleanor Jones Harvey, American Scholar

Daniel E. Sutherland is distinguished professor of history, University of Arkansas.

"Immensely readable . . . a lively addition to the understanding of this difficult and important American artist."—Kirkus Reviews
“We can salute Sutherland’s pluck and determination in reprising a beguiling subject who remains as elusive as the butterfly he took as his monogram.”—Tanya Harrod, Literary Review

“All that matters about Whistler is his art. On that, Sutherland writes with sensitivity and deep knowledge, and he makes you eager to go and see the pictures for yourself. Whistler would not have asked for anything more."—John Carey, The Sunday Times

"Sutherland's account. . .is unobtrusively scholarly and he is a sensible explainer of the work, accessible and illuminating to the general reader. We get three thick wodges of plates, so the paintings are on hand. He knew everybody, learned what he needed to learn and became singular. Sutherland deftly explains how." —Sam Leith, The Spectator

“[Sutherland] has delved into the artist’s correspondence as well as scores of archives to forge a lucid account of what by any standards was an unruly, restless life. . . This biography does much to illuminate Whistler’s career, showing up the public man, the tireless self-promoter, with his rough-and-tumble engagement with the art world of his day.”—Mark Thomas, The Daily Telegraph

“This is the story of a true bohemian.”—Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times

“Sutherland wants to get behind the Whistler myth and reveal what he calls the ‘covert myth’ – that is, the inner life of this enigmatic man. In order to this, he has provided a well-written and dramatic story.”—J. B. Bullen, Apollo Magazine

“Daniel Sutherland, a professor of history at the University of Arkansas, has given us a warts-and-all portrait of Whistler, the man, the work and his times.”—A.N.Wilson, The Financial Times

“The first comprehensive biography of Whistler in at least a generation . . . Sutherland skillfully captures Whistler’s ambition, tenacity, and insecurity and presents his life in a narrative that does justice to both his triumphs and his failures.”—Eleanor Jones Harvey, American Scholar

“[Sutherland] seeks to get behind the public Whistler . . . never judging or condescending to his subject . . . The portrait of Whistler that emerges is complex and mysterious . . . a measured and scholarly account of an extraordinary life."—Ruth Scurr, Wall Street Journal
“The book is finely crafted and exhaustively researched. . .Sutherland is prodigiously well informed.”—Alex Danchev, New Statesman

“Sutherland’s illustrious, cradle-to-grave biography is nicely old-fashioned: it recounts Whistler’s career in chronological order, is generous with detail, and keeps psychological speculation to a minimum.”—Michael Prodger, The Mail on Sunday

‘Sutherland [writes] with admirable precision and thoroughness. The picture he creates of Whistler – his working methods, his professional vicissitudes, his critical reception, his vexed relationships – is like one of the artist’s own wonderful early etchings, both clear in line and rich in detail. It is an impressive achievement.’—Matthew Sturgis, Times Literary Supplement
“Wonderfully precise . . . full of sharp notes of detail . . . compelling . . . a beautifully written account.”—Farisa Khalid, PopMatters
‘Sutherland is masterful. . .Thorough and unpedantic, [Whistler] distinguishes itself by its unobtrusive scholarly edifice and extensive use of Whistler letters.’—Vladislav Davidzon, The Art Newspaper

“Sutherland’s admirably researched and memorable biography should find new admirers for this prickly, headstrong artist and provocateur.”—Ann Landi, ARTnews

“Engaging”—Christopher Benfey, New York Review of Books

“[A] lucid and jargon-free biography”—Deborah Solomon, New York Times Book Review

"Sutherland's book shows us Whistler the man, warts and all."—Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Notable historian Daniel E. Sutherland has produced an impressive and weighty volume that will be a rich scholarly resource for years to come. . . . There is much detail in this book on Whistler that will prove invaluable to scholars.”—Catherine Carter Goebel, The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies
ISBN: 9780300232639
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
510 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 3/16
107 color + b/w illus.
Whistler's Mother

Portrait of an Extraordinary Life

Daniel E. Sutherland and Georgia Toutziari

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