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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whistler’s Mother Postage Stamp

James Abbot McNeill Whistler was an American-born British based artist. Originally his painting, which was made into a postage stamp, was titled “Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother”, but was later shortened to “Whistler’s Mother”. The Whistler’s Mother postage stamp was released in 1934, three decades after the artist’s death. The stamp stands as a tribute to not only the famous American painter’s mother, but to all mother’s in America. This three cent postage stamp reads “US Postage-In memory and in honor of the mothers of America.”

The lady sitting sideways as the model (a traditional pose of the time period) is Anna McNeill Whistler. When the painting was first exhibited, it was not much admired by the public. As Whistler’s reputation grew, so did the admiration of this painting, as well as his other works of art.

The painting was purchased for the Luxembourg Museum in Paris by the French government for the less than $1000, when Whistler came upon hard times. This was much less than a private collector would have paid. As with all of Whistler’s paintings, it had to be restored because poor materials were used. It is currently on display in a Musée d’Orsay Gallery not far from famous Van Gogh and Renoir masterpieces.

As with many stamps that are produced, there is often someone who takes issue with the final product. Art critics denounce the fact that the US Postal Service cropped the picture so that the subjects face appears much closer than in the original painting. The stamp designer also decided to add a bouquet of flowers to the scene, in the far left corner of the stamp. The changes depicted on the stamp brought many protests from art experts.

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