James Whistler (1834 – 1903)





1843 Whistler moves with his family to St Petersburg, Russia, following his father, Major George Washington Whistler's appointment as a civil engineer for the St Petersburg to Moscow railway

1845 Attends drawing lessons at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, St Petersburg

1848 Lives with his half-sister Deborah Haden at 62 Sloane Street, London

1849 His father, Major George Washington Whistler dies; family return to America

1851-1854 Attends United States Military Academy, West Point

1854-1855 Works at the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey

1855 Moves to Paris

1856 Enters the studio of Charles Gleyre

1858 Produces the etchings published as the "French Set". Meets artists Fantin-Latour, Courbet and Legros

1859 Moves to London; etches with Seymour Haden; begins the "Thames Set" of etchings

1860 Exhibits At the Piano at the Royal Academy

c.1860 Meets Joanna Hiffernan

1863 Moves to 7 Lindsey Row, Chelsea; exhibits The White Girl at the Salon des Refusés, Paris; his mother, Anna Matilda Whistler, arrives in London from America

1865 Meets Albert Moore; paints with Courbet at Trouville

1866 Brief trip to Valparaiso, Chile; separates from Joanna Hiffernan

1867 Moves to 2 Lindsey Row, Chelsea

1870 Birth of son, Charles James Whistler Hanson

1871 Paints Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1: Portrait of the Painter's Mother and first nocturnes of the Thames

c.1873 Maud Franklin becomes Whistler's model and subsequently mistress

1873 Paints Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle

1874 First one-man exhibition, Flemish Gallery, Pall Mall

1875 Anna Whistler retires to Hastings

1876-1877 Decorates the Peacock Room at 49 Prince's Gate, the London home of Liverpool shipping magnate, F.R. Leyland

1877 The critic John Ruskin's comments on work exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, London, provokes Whistler to raise a libel suit; commissions the White House from E.W. Godwin; birth of his daughter, Ione Franklin

1878 Briefly takes up lithography; awarded damages of one farthing in the Ruskin libel suit

1879 Birth of his daughter, Maud McNeill Whistler Franklin; declared bankrupt; leaves for Venice with a commission from the Fine Art Society, London, for 12 etchings

1880 Exhibits the "First Venice Set" etchings at the Fine Art Society, London

1881 Exhibits Venice pastels at the Fine Art Society, London; Anna Whistler dies; leases studio at 13 Tite Street

1883 Exhibition of Venice etchings at the Fine Art Society, London, and Wunderlich's, New York

1884 Exhibition of "Notes"–"Harmonies"–"Nocturnes" at Dowdeswells', London; leases studio at 454a Fulham Road

1885 Delivers the "Ten O'Clock" lecture, Prince's Hall, London; lives at the Pink Palace, and subsequently The Vale, Chelsea

1886 Second exhibition of "Notes"–"Harmonies"–"Nocturnes" at Dowdeswells' A Set of Twenty Six Etchings of Venice published by Dowdeswells' elected President of the Society of British Artists; resigns in 1888

1887 Resumes lithography; exhibition of 50 oils at Galerie Georges Petit, Paris

1888 Moved to 14 Upper Cheyne Row, and subsequently the Tower House, Tite Street; breaks with Maud Franklin and marries Beatrix Godwin; honeymoons on the Continent

1889 Paints and etches in Amsterdam

1890 Moves to 21 Cheyne Walk; publishes The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, a selection of correspondence and writings on art; meets his future great patron, the American industrialist, Charles L. Freer

1891 Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle purchased by Glasgow Corporation; Arrangement in Grey and Black No 1: Portrait of the Painter's Mother purchased by the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris

1892 Major retrospective at the Goupil Gallery, London. The Whistlers move to 110 rue du Bac, Paris, and take a studio at 86 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs

1894 The Whistlers return to London

1896 Takes a London studio at 8 Fitzroy Street; Beatrix Whistler dies; Rosalind Birnie Philip becomes his ward

1897 Sets up the Company of the Butterfly to sell his work; paints in Dieppe and Etretat

1898 Elected President of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers; teaching school, the Académie Carmen, set up in Paris

1899-1901 Painting trips to France, Holland, Ireland, Algeria and Corsica

1901 Closes Paris house and studio

1902 Leases 74 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea

1903 Awarded honorary doctorate of law by the University of Glasgow; dies at 74 Cheyne Walk, 17 July

Index of pictures