Studio: international art — 29.1903

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James McNeill Whistler

JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER. Whistler's case, what it has so often been with
HIS ART AND INFLUENCE, other men, a deliberate contrivance for glossing
■QY a t BALDRY over a want °f real ability. He was unquestionably

a master of the painter's craft, an artist who within
It is by no means an exaggeration to say that the limits to which he confined himself was without
for practically the whole of his working career of a rival among his contemporaries, and one who is
some five and forty years Whistler was a personality fairly entitled to a place among the great executants
of extraordinary prominence in the art world. His whose names are recorded in the history of art. It
remarkable and erratic genius, his strange and sur- is, indeed, as an executant pre-eminently that he
prising individuality, gained him from the very first has to be considered : an imaginative painter with
an amount of attention far beyond that usually literary ideas he certainly was not. His pictorial
bestowed upon an artist who dares to take an intention, from which he never departed throughout
independent line in his professional practice. He his life, was to realise with exquisite subtlety the
never had, like so many other men who have since most delicate gradations of tone and the most
been acclaimed as masters, to labour in obscurity, dainty modulations of colour. He had a marvellous
and it was by no means his fate to spend the whole faculty of observation, which enabled him to per-
or even any considerable part of his life in striving ceive the artistic possibilities of what may be called
for recognition. At no stage in his career was it the commonplaces of the modern world, and he
possible to overlook him;
his work was too surprising
in character and his assertion
of himself too outspoken for
anyone to fail to be conscious
of his existence. People who
worshipped his productions
as evidences of the rarest
ability, and people who re-
fused to regard him as any-
thing but a charlatan who
made up in impudence what
he lacked in skill, quarrelled
for years over him, and he
had the wit to perceive that
this antagonism was for him
a valuable source of pub-
licity and to keep it alive by
numberless ingenious de-
vices. Few men have had
a shrewder appreciation of
the uses of advertisement
or have known better how
to help themselves on by
playing cleverly on popular
enthusiasms. He made up
his mind from the first that
he would not be ignored,
and so long as his import-
ance in the world was
admitted he was supremely
indifferent as to what might
be the feelings of the general
public towards him.

But this strenuous ad- study in chalk, on brown paper by j. mcneill wmistler

vertisement was not in (By permission of Mrs. L. Knowles)

XXIX. No. 126.—September, 1903. 237
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