Art: To a High Place

Before he died, James Abbott McNeill Whistler sold one of his most famed canvases to the Luxembourg, one of Paris' great art galleries. The consideration for the transfer was small, and Whistler is supposed to have understood that some time after his death it would be translated to the magnificent Louvre and hang among the great masters. Whistler died in 1903, but the picture still hangs in the Luxembourg. It is unusual for paintings to be hung in the Louvre until some 50 years after an artist's death.

Americans have been growing anxious, however, almost clamorous, to step into the Louvre,...

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