James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1834-1903. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts. An influential American painter and etcher, Whistler worked in Impressionism, Symbolism, and Art Nouveau styles. He was among the finest etchers, having produced a series of etchings of the Thames. He created 179 lithographs, pastels and watercolors. His favorite subjects were cityscapes and ships at docks. He’s recognized as the first American modernist to influence European art. His paintings were considered a mystery as they appeared dreamy or abstract.
He was raised in New England and Russia. When his family returned to the United States, he enrolled at the Military Academy at West Point, doing illustrations for student publications. He worked as surveyor and cartographer in U.S. Coastal and Geodetic Surveys. His etching techniques were honed while working as a cartographer. Determined to have a fine art career, he sailed for Europe in 1855, and never returned to the United States.