The work has become one of the most famous portraits ever made. Odd in a way for such a mute picture, dominated by black and grey. But that’s part of its appeal. It’s solemnity, which opens it up to parody and humour. It’s also a touchingly intimate portrayal of a man’s mother, with whom he had a difficult relationship but whom he clearly loved and respected.
Art critic Tim Marlow, on ‘Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1’, commonly known as ‘Whistler’s mother’.