whistlerbycorwin copyIf reading about artists whose work you admire energizes you, I have two just finished to suggest.  ‘In Pursuit of the Butterfly:* Portraits of James McNeill Whistler’ by Eric Denker (Washington DC: National Portrait Gallery, 1995) is a terrific introduction through showing–and explaining– others’ (and his own) portraits of the artist. (*His signature graphic was the butterfly.)

More complete is a traditional biography by Daniel E. Sutherland: ‘Whistler: A Life for Art’s Sake’ (Yale University Press, 2014). Whistler truly did sacrifice much of his real self for the sake of promoting his creations. This excellent work reveals more complexity and surprise surprising than his reputation would hint at.