Whistler’s Mother, North Carolina Native

Women dedicate a North Carolina flag in front of Whister’s Mother. Image from the N.C. Museum of HistoryOn September 27, 1804, Anna McNeill Whistler was born in Wilmington. McNeill was made famous in the renowned painting, “Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother,” commonly known as “Whistler’s Mother.”

Shortly after her birth, Anna McNeill moved with her family to New York. In 1831, she married George Washington Whistler, a close friend of her brother.

After growing up in the U.S. and Russia, attending West Point for a brief time and then moving to Paris to study art, the Whistlers’ son James began to split his time between Paris and London. He continued to develop his craft, becoming an important figure in contemporary art circles and generating controversy for his greater focus on color and arrangement than on realism.

The famous painting commonly known as Whistler’s Mother. Image from the Wikimedia Foundation

Anna Whistler moved to London in 1863 to live with her son, and, in 1871, he painted her as the figure in “Whistler’s Mother.” The painting was first shown in 1872, extending Whistler’s reputation, but it has received mixed reviews throughout much of its history. “Whistler’s Mother” now hangs in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and has been rarely exhibited in the United States.

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