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