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The Art and Life of James McNeill Whistler is a one-hour PBS television special about the artist whose portrait of his mother is an icon of American culture, and whose adventuresome life-story has never been told on prime-time television.


Actor Kevin Kline reads the words of James McNeill Whistler in the documentary, which is narrated by Anjelica Huston.


James McNeill Whistler” combines interviews with foremost Whistler scholars and period experts, recreations produced in association with 1-A Productions, Glasgow; animations from Pixeldust Studios and nearly two hundred drawings, etchings, paintings and photographs.  Intended for release in the PBS fall 2014 broadcast season as part of the national PBS Arts Festival, “James McNeill Whistler” will be accompanied by a series of public programs at museums across the nation (Whistlerfest!), an educational component for 8th-12th graders created with the National Arts Education Association, and special features on the PBSInteractive website.


The documentary is a production of Film Odyssey, Inc. in association with the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer/Sackler Gallery of Art, public television station WETA and 1-A Productions, Glasgow.  The program is produced by Karen Thomas and edited by Adam Lingo.


Major production funding for “James McNeill Whistler” has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional production funding from PBS, the Lunder Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the DC Arts and Humanities Commission.   Planning grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, Maryland Humanities Council and the Humanities Council of Washington, DC supported preliminary research and the creation of a detailed television documentary script.


For more information on The Art and Life of James McNeill Whistler, or to be added to our production blog, contact  You can follow the project on Facebook, LinkedIn and on Twitter.

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