Poor James Abbott McNeill Whistler. He's destined for eternity to be famous for Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1: Portrait of the Painter's Mother — better known as Whistler's Mother, one of the most famous paintings of the 19th Century. Whether by choice or necessity, the Boca Museum's ambitious overview of the American expatriate artist's career omitted the notorious portrait and was all the stronger for it. Instead, the exhibition — culled from one of the two most extensive Whistler collections in the world — presented the artist in the context of his colorful life and times. Along with a dozen oil paintings, the show included watercolors, drawings, lithographs, and personal memorabilia, plus some of the etchings that contributed to Whistler's reputation for being, as Hunterian curator Peter Black notes in the catalog, "the greatest etcher since Rembrandt." While far from comprehensive, the exhibition sought to reclaim the artist's rightful place in art history despite, not because of, a flamboyant life that often threatened to overshadow the work. And in that, the show succeeded admirably.

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