ART: WHISTLER UNVEILED

BEHIND THE LEGEND, A FINE, NOT GREAT, PAINTER

AFTER BENJAMIN WEST IN THE 18th century, James McNeill Whistler was the first American artist to become really famous across the Atlantic: not only in London, like West, but in Paris as well. Since America loves to see its children imposing themselves on the world's culture--a less common sight 100 years ago than now--this perpetual expatriate, with his viperish tongue, large ego and delicately nuanced paintings, has long been an American favorite.

And not only an American one. As a young man, he worked with Gustave Courbet. He knew, and was respected by, some of the finest artists in Paris: Edgar...

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