Wednesday, July 3, 2013
An Iconic Painting For An Iconic Holiday
Arrangement In Grey And Black No. 1
(“Portrait Of The Artist's Mother”)
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Oil On Canvas
56 13/16 Inches By 63 7/8 Inches
The most iconic American painting owned by a non-American museum is Whistler’s famed 1871 portrait of his mother. For the last 122 years, “Whistler’s Mother”, as the painting is commonly known, has been owned by the French government.
“Whistler’s Mother” is now on permanent display at Musée d'Orsay, where in January I saw the painting for the first time. It was hanging alongside a Winslow Homer painting.
Until January, I had had no inkling that the French greatly appreciated Whistler and Homer, and that French art collectors had begun acquiring Whistler and Homer canvases during the artists’ lifetimes.