3 October: Julia Musgrave “The irritating and influential Mr Whistler”

An American artist in London, James Abbott McNeill Whistler was a leading proponent of the idea of “art for art’s sake”. He signed his paintings with stylized monogram of a butterfly with a long stinger for a tail – as much a symbol of his love of Japanese art as his assertive and sometimes combative nature.
Having lived and worked with the Paris avant-garde he settled in London in 1859 having created a distinctive Post-Impressionist style at a time when many of his British contemporaries had yet to come to terms with Impressionism. Whistler’s art moved painting towards abstraction, sparked a renaissance in printmaking and gave us the Peacock Room, a masterpiece of interior design.
Inspired, influential, and infuriating, his art was full of subtle delicacy, he had a wide social network of friends and family and yet, if crossed, could be a formidable opponent. He mastered the art of making enemies.

JULIA MUSGRAVE got her first degree in Chemical Engineering and went on to become a Chartered Information Systems Engineer and IT project manager. In 2008 she decided that life was too short for just one career and decided to become an art historian.

She now has a Graduate Diploma in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art and an MLitt in ‘Art, Style and Design: Renaissance to Modernism, c.1450 – c.1930’ from the University of Glasgow. She gained her Ph.D. at the University of York for her research into the involvement of Roger Fry, the Bloomsbury Group, and the social networks of the British art world  in the development of the Contemporary Art Society from 1910 to 1939.