Pennell’s Life of Whistler

In Venice, Jenkins reminisces about being there as a boy with his parents. This leads to an anecdote about his father’s two volume set of Pennell’s Life of Whistler, “a painter he admired,” which he bought in Paris because the French edition had the same illustrations as the English edition but was cheaper. [TK 59/54]

Arrangement in Grey: Portrait of the Painter James McNeill Whistler, ~1872, oil on canvas, 30 x 21 in Detroit Institute of Art photo in public domain from National Endowment for the Humanities

Arrangement in Grey: Portrait of the Painter
James McNeill Whistler, ~1872,
oil on canvas, 30 x 21 in
Detroit Institute of Art
photo in public domain from National Endowment for the Humanities

Mr. Deacon referred to Whistler (1843-1903) in A Buyer’s Market.  We have also mentioned Whistler when Jenkins reflected on Proust’s Balbec.  Here we show a Whistler self portrait because a reproduction of it is the frontispiece of The Life Of James McNeill Whistler by Elizabeth Pennell and Joseph Pennell (1908), which includes numerous illustrations. Joseph Pennell (1857-1926) was an American artist distinguished for his work in lithography and etching.  Joseph and his wife Elizabeth (1855-1936) met Whistler after they moved to London in 1884.  The three became close friends, and Whistler asked the Pennells to write Whistler’s biography, to which he contributed suggestions. To sample the reverential tone of the biography read the beginning of volume 2, where Joseph recalls first meeting Whistler. The Pennells donated their collection of Whistleriana to the Library of Congress in 1917.

 

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