James McNeill Whistler, ELLEN STURGIS HOOPER
01 work, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, with Footnotes. #91

Oil on panel
20 1/4 by 12 inches, (51.4 by 30.5 cm)
Private collector

Ellen Sturgis Hooper (February 17, 1812 — November 3, 1848) was an American poet. A member of the Transcendental Club, she was widely regarded as one of the most gifted poets among the New England Transcendentalists. Her work is occasionally reprinted in anthologies.

Ellen Sturgis was born in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1837, she married physician Robert William . The couple had three children, one of whom, Marian “Clover” Hooper, married Henry Adams and became a celebrated Washington, D.C., hostess and photographer.

Her poetry was regularly commissioned by Ralph Waldo Emerson and published in The Dial. Her poems also appeared in Elizabeth Peabody’s Æsthetic Papers (1849), and the final stanzas of one of her poems, The Wood-Fire, appear in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854).

Ellen Sturgis Hooper died of tuberculosis at age 36. Her early death is said to have “enshrined her in the memories of her associates as a Transcendental angel.” More on Ellen Sturgis Hooper

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (July 10, 1834 — July 17, 1903) was an American artist, active during the American Gilded Age and based primarily in the United Kingdom. He was averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, and was a leading proponent of the credo “art for art’s sake”. His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger for a tail. The symbol was apt, for it combined both aspects of his personality — his art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative. Finding a parallel between painting and music, Whistler entitled many of his paintings “arrangements”, “harmonies”, and “nocturnes”, emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony. His most famous painting is “Arrangement in Grey and Black №1” (1871), commonly known as Whistler’s Mother, the revered and oft-parodied portrait of motherhood. Whistler influenced the art world and the broader culture of his time with his artistic theories and his friendships with leading artists and writers. More James Abbott McNeill Whistler

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