WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There are little nuggets of history around every corner in the Cape Fear, and this week, we’re introducing you to a particularly interesting portrait. As it turns out, the subject of one of the world’s most famous paintings was born right here in Wilmington.
This marker takes us to the corner of Third and Orange Streets where there’s for an interesting piece of art history. His name is James Whistler, a very prominent painter of the 19th Century.
If you don’t recognize him, you probably will recognize his mother, the painting, known informally as “Whistler’s Mother” is his most famous piece of work, so famous that it was a main character in the movie “Bean”.
The work is a portrait of Anna McNeill Whistler, who just so happened to be born right here in the Port City in 1804. The home was on the corner of 4th and Orange Streets and like many homes from that time, the house has since been replaced.
When she was young, Anna’s family moved away from Wilmington to New York City. In 1831 James was born, and he would grow up to study art in Paris, and he would not return to the United States.
In 1863 Anna moved to live with her son in London, and it was in 1871 when the famous “Whistler’s Mother” painting was born.
The formal name for the painting is actually, “Arrangement in Grey and Black Number 1”, though that is rarely used.