WHISTLER, James Abbott McNeill (1834-1903)
The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
[London: William Heinemann, 1890]. 4to. Uncut. Newspaper clippings mounted on pastedowns.
Publisher's cloth-backed gilt lettered boards.
One of 250 numbered copies, signed by Whistler with his butterfly monogram.
Whistler's memoir of his famous libel suit against art critic John Ruskin in response to the critic's negative review of his work, an abstract city scene called "Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket," which Ruskin wrote was like "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." The book also includes Whistler's letters to newspapers detailing his various petty grievances against his friends and acquaintances. Whistler was a popular figure known for his sharp wit and overflowing confidence and integrated deeply into the European artistic community in London and in the Café society of Paris, where he became good friends with Oscar Wilde. Facing bankruptcy, Whistler had hoped this trial would restore his public reputation and save his career, which would improve his dire financial situation. The results of this were mixed, as he lost several patrons because of it but also entered an extremely productive period in which he worked in Venice and became well-known among the American artistic community there. He achieved much success in his later years and created art until his death in 1903.