Arrangement in Black No 5 Lady Meux

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  • Topic: James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Portrait, John Singer Sargent
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  • Published : December 11, 2012
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By: Maria Isabel Soriano

Arrangement in Black No. 5: Lady Meux
By: James Abbott McNeill Whistler

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), was born on July 11th, 1834 in Massachusetts. His father was Major G. W. Whistler, and his mother one of the Baltimore family of Winans. James McNeill Whistler was one of the foremost proponents of the Aesthetic movement in England where he worked and lived for most of his life. As an American expatriate, he provided an important link between the avant-garde of Europe and America, through his work as a painter and well-respected printmaker. Whistler was one of the most accomplished portraitists of his time. The artist had become bankrupt in 1879, following his lawsuit against the critic John Ruskin. After that in 1881, Lady Meux offered Whistler his first significant commission after the bankruptcy. Her full-length portrait, known as Arrangement in Black, No. 5 (Portrait of Lady Meux) now hangs in the Honolulu Museum of Art. It shows her dressed in black with a long white fur coat and diamond tiara, necklace and bracelet. The Portrait of Lady Meux is a name given to several full-length portraits by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Valerie Susan Meux, Langdon, (1847 – 1910) was a Victorian socialite and the wife of the London brewer.  She is believed to have met Sir Henry at the Casino de Venise in Holburn, where she worked as a banjo-playing barmaid and prostitute under the name Val Reece. This portrait was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1882 to an enthusiastic reception. Although one contemporary critic likened this depiction of Mrs. Meux to Venus, Whistler sought to depict more than her physical presence, concentrating instead on manipulating mood through color to create a composition which he likened to musical orchestration

Arrangement in Black No. 5: Lady Meux
By: James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Date: 1881
Medium: Oil on canvas
Style: Early modern
Dimensions: 76 1/2 x 51 1/4 in. (194.3 x 130.2 cm)...
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