A nice blend of reality plus imagination – as the author himself admits, the exact circumstances cannot be known as there were no diaries, and ‘Mrs’ Whistler herself and her actions and feelings were never documented at the time.
It seems clear that Whistler was not only a braggart but also naive and always thought that either people were his friends or his enemies and never considered that some may have had dubious reasons for being his friend – see Howell. And were so many of his paintings really destroyed? If so, it was a real shame. But his classic painting of his mother is still to be viewed.
Personally though I cannot agree with his reaction to Burne-Jones having seen a recent exhibition of his work where it demonstrates just how good he was, and how multi-talented, despite his later somewhat fanciful works of angels etc.
I am great fan of Whistler’s moody paintings where the items are barely distinguishable – the low light and almost monochromatic effect are wonderful.
I surprised myself by enjoying the book, but then I like (almost) all the Pre-Raphaelite painting/painters and found this an interesting exposition of just how they lived – so many debts – yet so much entertaining, and the fostering of children was heart-rending to read about.