Art: Patterns & Harmonies

James McNeill Whistler was really two people. He was a pugnacious little dandy in a wide-brimmed, flat hat, who sported a tuft of beard under his lip and tugged at it gently when he was thinking up malicious dodges to discomfit his enemies. Whistler fought the world from the day he was kicked out of West Point for flunking chemistry. ("Had silicon been a gas,'' he is reported to have said, "I would have been a major general.") Between rounds, Whistler became instead an immensely solemn, self-absorbed artist, who turned his friends and the London fog into dim, delicate patterns and...

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