For mother

From being An Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1, the painting, became a popular one, even being featured in some television shows.

July 04, 2018 01:14 pm | Updated 01:14 pm IST

WHISTLER’S MOTHER: At the Musée d'Orsay

WHISTLER’S MOTHER: At the Musée d'Orsay

How do you show your mother how much you love her?

American artist James Abbott McNeil Whistler painted a portrait of his mother, Anna Whistler. In the painting, the artist’s mother wears a black dress and a white cotton cap. She is seated against a grey wall and in front of her is a dark curtain. Her face and hands are painted using pink and yellow. She wears a plain gold wedding ring. At first, when Whistler submitted the painting to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, it was rejected. But, later it was hung in their exhibition in 1872.

Experiment gone wild

To tell the truth, Whistler was not really interested in making his mother famous. He was doing an art experiment when he painted her picture. At that time, his mother was living with him in London and he asked her to pose for him. He arranged different shades of grey and black close to each other and spread paint more thinly and smoothly to create an interesting effect. He called the painting Arrangement in Grey and Black, No 1. People who saw the picture started to call it Whistler’s Mother and the name stuck.

The painting was bought by the Musee du Luxembourg, an art museum in Paris. Here it became famous and won a lot of praise. In America, people thought it was an image of the perfect mother — patient and hard-working. The Great Depression was a time when many people in America lost their jobs and the people were struggling. At this time, in 1934, Franklin Roosevelt, the President of the US, asked for the picture to appear in a postage stamp issued on Mother’s Day. In Ashland, Pennsylvania, an eight feet tall statue was created based on Whistler’s Mother.

The painting plays a part in many popular TV shows and movies like “The Simpsons” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “Mr Bean”.

Nowadays, its home is the Musee d’Orsay in Paris but it is often loaned and shown in other museums around the world.

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