Lady with Fever

Artist: Pieter Lategan
Title: Lady with Fever
Medium: Eltoro 120gms Paper Pencil B, B3
Dimensions: 297x210mm

This is a redraw of James McNeill Whistler’s pencil sketch.  I changed it a bit as you will see, I made the hair very dark it let it looks very dramatic.  It brings out the face and gives a lot of contrast between the hair and the skin.  The eyes are closed she is or dead or sleeping.

James McNeill Whistler

“Whistler depicts the celebrated Irish beauty Joanna Hiffernan—his model and mistress—sunk in an armchair, engulfed by a long skirt and loose hair, her lips parted as if to speak. The delicate paper captures the soft, drypoint lines and conveys a sensual mood. The light sketch of a girl’s head (in the lower left of the sheet) suggests that Whistler first worked on the plate from the opposite direction with another subject in mind. Drypoint lines were scratched directly into the copper to produce this famous image.” –

James Whistler (July 11, 1834 – July 17, 1903) was an American artist, based in London during the Gilded Age.  The Gilded Age was an era that occurred during the late 19th century, from the 1870s to about 1900.  This was the time of rapid economic growth in the USA.  The wages grew higher than those in Europe.

Whistler was averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, and a leading proponent of the credo “art for art’s sake”.  He found a parallel between painting and music and entitled many of his paintings “arrangements”, “harmonies”, and “nocturnes”, emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony.

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Year: 1871
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 1,443 mm × 1,624 mm (56.81 in × 63.94 in)

His most famous painting Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (1871), commonly known as Whistler’s Mother, is a revered and often parodied portrait of motherhood. Whistler suggests that he do a portrait of her.  He had her stand at first, in his typically slow and experimental way, but that proved too tiring so the seated pose was adopted.  It took dozens of sittings to complete.

“The austere portrait in his normally constrained palette is another Whistler exercise in tonal harmony and composition. The deceptively simple design is, in fact, a balancing act of differing shapes, particularly the rectangles of a curtain, picture on the wall, and floor which stabilizes the curve of her face, dress, and chair. Whistler commented that the painting’s narrative was of little importance, yet the painting was also paying homage to his pious mother. After the initial shock of her moving in with her son, she aided him considerably by stabilizing his behavior somewhat, tending to his domestic needs, and providing an aura of conservative respectability that helped win over patrons.”

The public reacted negatively to the painting, mostly because of its anti-Victorian simplicity during a time in England when sentimentality and flamboyant decoration were in vogue.  Critics thought the painting failed “experiment” rather than art. The Royal Academy rejected it.

From the start, Whistler’s Mother sparked varying reactions, including parody, ridicule, and reverence, which have continued to today.  Some saw it as “the dignified feeling of older Ladyhood”, “a grave sentiment of mourning”, or a “perfect symbol of motherhood”, others employed it as a fitting vehicle of mockery. The painting is now housed in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

Whistler influenced the art world and the broader culture of his time with his theories and his friendships with leading artists and writers.

Music Listen to:
Winter – Tori Amos(1992)


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