Art for Youth

Children wearing Whistler House Museum of Art aprons smile and pose during the Youth Summer Art Program.

Whistler Abroad

U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra James Costos stands with Whistler House Museum of Art Executive Director and President Sara Bogosian.

Award Event

A staute of artist James McNeill Whistler next to text reading: James McNeill Whistler Distinguised Art Award 2022.

Historic Restoration

The newly restored Whistler House Museum of Art's historic kitchen, complete with a rectangular table, blue and white porcelain plates, and cast-iron stove.

Arshile Gorky

Detail of an untitled painting by Arshile Gorky, which features a white vase with pink flowers on a blue background.


James McNeill Whistler began experimenting with butterflies as a signature in his paintings and prints in the 1860s.

By the 1870s it had become a very important element in his works and he even used it as decoration and signature on letters, notes, and invitation cards. The butterfly symbol became so popular that people who bought his earlier works of art would return to Whistler so he could sign his monogram onto their paintings.

Whistler liked the effect of the butterfly because it resembled ideographs — a character or symbol representing an idea or thing (e.g. $, %, etc.) — often used in works of art from China, Japan, and other Eastern Asian countries at the time.

Whistler used his butterfly both as a symbol for himself and as part of the design in his paintings and prints. Over the years, he changed the butterfly monogram from simple to very complex, eventually adding stinging tail on the end.

ButterflySheet Image

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