Was Whistler a Dandy?
Wed 12 April 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm BST
James McNeill Whistler is often described as a Dandy, but is it an accurate or fair image, given the often unflattering connotations of the word? Admittedly, many of Whistler’s biographers have accepted it. More damagingly, they have perpetuated it by characterizing him variously as an “eccentric dandy,” “an aggressive dandy,” or a “provocative dandy.”
Yet, while Whistler did at times assume the identity of a Dandy, it was a face he wore for the crowd and his own amusement. His dandyism was more in the eye of the beholder, as well as in mistaken ideas of what constitutes dandyism.
Daniel E. Sutherland, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Arkansas
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Daniel Sutherland received his PhD in History from Wayne State University. He then taught for forty-four years at Wayne State, the University of Alabama, McNeese University, and the University of Arkansas before retiring in 2020. In addition to fourteen books on nineteenth-century U.S. history, he is the author of Whistler: A Life for Art’s Sake (Yale UP, 2014) and co-author of Whistler’s Mother: Portrait of an Extraordinary Life (Yale UP, 2018).
Image: Alfred Reginald Thomson RA, Portrait of Whistler, 1962 – courtesy of the Chelsea Arts Club