James Whistler created a new set of principles for the fine arts, championed art for art's sake, and introduced a subtle style of painting in which atmosphere and mood were the main focus. Whistler was an American-born, British-based artist. James Whistler used a butterfly as his signature for his paintings.
The butterfly was unique in that it possessed a long stinger on it's
tail. Whistler's signature fit him well for it combined both aspects of
his personality. Whistler was known to have a difficult public persona,
yet his artwork was often delicate like a butterfly.
1862 James Whistler started to work on "Symphony in White No.1: The
White Girl" (shown at top of page). The model was once again his
mistress, Jo. This controversial painting brought Whistler's name to the
forefront in the art world. Shown in London first and then in Paris, it
provoked a buzz of irrelevant interpretation. The expressionless young
woman in virginal white, standing on a wolf skin with a lily in her hand
(that floral emblem of the Aesthetic Movement), was declared to be a
bride on the morning after her wedding night; or a fallen ex-virgin; or
a victim of mesmerism - anything except what she actually was: a model
posing in Whistler's studio to give him a pretext to paint shades of
white with extreme virtuosity and subtlety
Although The White Girl was rejected by the Royal Academy in 1862 and
the Paris Salon of 1863, it was a sensation at the Salon des Refusés,
admired by artists though laughed at by the public.In 1863 Whistler
leased a house in the Chelsea section of London, where he set up
housekeeping with Jo. His mother arrived late that year and spent the
rest of her life in England.
Again, though his mother is the subject, Whistler commented that the
narrative was of little importance. In reality, however, it was a homage
to his pious mother. After the initial shock of her moving in with her
son, she aided him considerably by stabilizing his behavior somewhat,
tending to his domestic needs, and providing an aura of conservative
respectability that helped win over patrons.