James McNeill Whistler and France: A Dialogue in Paint, Poetry, and Music is the first full-length and in-depth study to position this painter within the overall trajectory of French modernism during the second half of the nineteenth century and to view the artist as integral to the aesthetic projects of its most original contributors. Suzanne M. Singletary maintains that Whistler was in a unique situation as an insider within the emerging French avant-garde, thereby in an enviable position to both absorb and transform the innovations of others – and that until now, his widespread influence as a catalyst among his colleagues has been neither investigated nor appreciated.
Singletary contends that Whistler’s importance rivals that of Manet, whose multi-layered (and often unexpected) interconnections with Whistler are the focus of one chapter. In addition, Whistler’s pivotal role in linking the legacies of Baudelaire, Delacroix, Gautier, Wagner, and other mid-century innovators to the later French Symbolists has previously been largely ignored. Courbet, Degas, Monet, and Seurat complete the roster of French artists whose dialogue with Whistler is highlighted.