Whistler: A Life for Art’s Sake
his beautifully illustrated biography of James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) makes extensive use of the artist’s private correspondence to tell the story of his life and work. Daniel Sutherland dispels the popular notion of Whistler as merely a combative, eccentric, and unrelenting publicity seeker, renowned as much for his public feuds with Oscar Wilde and John Ruskin as for the iconic portrait of his mother. Whistler is revealed as an intense, introspective, and complex man, plagued by self-doubt and haunted by the pursuit of perfection in his painting and drawing. Sutherland shows why Whistler was perhaps the most influential artist of his generation, and certainly a pivotal figure in the cultural history of the 19th century.