Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers--Whistler's and Trollope's.

Many mothers to remember this day, especially those who have affected our lives, but the two we chose to write about are Anna McNeil Whistler and Frances Trollope.

Anna was the mother of James McNeil Whistler, artist, wit and bon vivant of the Victorian era--American but spending most of his career in England. (He and Oscar Wilde were pals, and played their own version of "Can You Top This?" After Whistler got off an especially funny line, Wilde said, "I wish I'd said that." Whistler replied, "You will, Oscar--you will.)

It was in London in 1871 when the model scheduled to pose for Whistler didn't arrive, so he cajoled his aged mother into taking her place. As one can tell, looking at the painting--now in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris--she was not particularly pleased. We can imagine her saying, "How much longer do I have to sit like this, Jimmy?" And her son saying, "Only another hour or two. Try not to move, Mother."

The painting is formally titled "Arrangement in Grey and Black #1." But, of course, the world knows it as "Whistler's Mother."

Anthony Trollope is remembered as the enormously industrious, disciplined and prolific author of the mid-19th century ("Barchester Towers," "Barry Lyndon," etc.). What isn't generally known is that his mother may have been even more industrious, disciplined and prolific. When her husband lost his wealth, Frances Trollope, to keep the family together and eating, sat down and began to write. Mother Trollope produced 114 books.

A happy Mother's Day to all, and especially artists and writers lucky to have had the right mothers.

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