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James McNeill Whistler was one of the great characters of the Nineteenth james whistler Century, perhaps the World's first celebrity.

He was outrageous, unconventional, original, monumentally egotistical, and, most importantly, highly talented. He also was employed by the Coast Survey for a short period - an organization that built its reputation on standardized products and standardized methods.

The collision of James McNeill Whistler and the Coast Survey is detailed in an account by John Ross Key, a fellow artist and office-mate of Whistler's, and in a biography written by E.R. and J. Pennell shortly after Whistler's death. These two accounts give insights into Whistler as man and artist and into the Coast Survey, the first great science agency in the United States Federal Government.

picture of whistler's mother
Recollections of Whistler While in the Office of the United States Coast Survey by John Ross Key
picture of whistler
The Life Of James McNeill Whistler By E. R. and J. Pennell

sketch of anacapa island
Sketch produced by James Whistler during his employment with the Coast Survey

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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