Mother Whistler Day – May 18, 2023

Mother Whistler Day is celebrated yearly on May 18. As opposed to being the day chosen to celebrate the mother of an American artist named James Abbott McNeill Whistler, whom the title takes from, it is a day to celebrate the art of whistling. Most people can whistle, however, not everyone can. You might ask why celebrate something like whistling? Well, because why not? Life is too short to choose not to celebrate things, especially things that if done well can be a melodious sound. Whistling is emitting a clear, high-pitched sound by forcing breath through a small hole between one’s lips or teeth and has been used in movies, songs, and other arts.

History of Mother Whistler Day

Does the name James Abbot McNeil Whistler ring a bell? Well, he was an American artist who began painting the portrait of his mother when the model he had scheduled to paint unexpectedly didn’t arrive. It then turned out to be one of the most popular paintings in the world. It is one of the few paintings done by an American artist but does not reside in America. The painting is called Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1 and now resides at Musée d’Orsay in Paris, having been bought by the French state in 1891.

The subject of the painting is Whistler’s mother, Anna McNeill Whistler. The painting is 56.81 by 63.94 inches (1,443 mm × 1,624 mm) and she posed for the painting while living in London with her son at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. The work was shown at the 104th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Art in London (1872), after coming close to being rejected by the Academy. The work became so popular, attracting several imitators and featuring in Paris’s Musée du Luxembourg when Whistler pawned it. After popular philosopher, Thomas Carlyle viewed the painting, he agreed to sit for a similar composition and was titled Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2, making the previous painting Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 by default.

The Mother Whistler has featured in music and movies, making appearances over the years in movies like “Bean” in 1997 and Will Smith’s “I Am Legend” in 2007, amongst a host of others.

Mother Whistler Day timeline

1871
Whistler’s Mother is Painted

Whistler completes his painting of his mother, Anne Marie Whistler

1872
Whistler’s Mother Painting Gains Recognition

The portrait is shown at the 104th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Art in London

1891
Whistler’s Mother Painting Gets Even Bigger

The popular painting is acquired by Paris's Musée du Luxembourg after Whistler pawns it.

1934
Whistler’s Mother Painting Becomes a Symbol

The U.S. Post Office Department issues a stamp engraved with the portrait detail from Whistler's Mother with the slogan "In memory and honor of the mothers of America.”

Mother Whistler Day FAQs

Who is Whistler’s mother

Anne McNeil Whistler was the mother of the famous painter, James Abbot McNeil Whistler and the subject of his most popular painting

When is Mother Whistler Day celebrated?

Mother Whistler Day is celebrated on May 18 every year.

Where is Whistler’s Mother located?

Whistler’s Mother is located at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris

Mother Whistler Day Activities

  1. Spread awareness of Mother Whistler Day

    Start the celebration by spreading the word. After all, the more the merrier.

  2. Join a whistling contest

    Join a whistling content to help improve your whistling skills as well as meet others who do it well. Not only is it fun, but it’s a great way to make friends.

  3. Visit Whistler’s Mother’s statue

    Pay a visit to Whistler's Mother statue in Ashland, Pennsylvania. Take photos and post them on your social media account to celebrate the day.

5 Whistling Songs You Should Know

  1. ‘Don't Worry, Be Happy’

    ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ is one of the most popular songs in the world and features a lot of whistling.

  2. ‘The Lazy Song’

    ‘The Lazy Song’ by Bruno Mars was released in 2010 with a whistling-heavy chorus

  3. ‘Moves like Jagger’

    ‘Moves like Jagger’ was performed by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera with a lot of whistling

  4. ‘Winds of Change’

    ‘Winds of Change’ was performed at the end of ‘The Cold War’ by the Scorpions and had whistling at the beginning and end of the song.

  5. ‘Home’

    Another song that featured whistling was ‘Home,’ performed by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes in 2010.

Why We Love Mother Whistler Day

  1. It appreciates the art of whistling

    Whistling can be overlooked as an art as almost everyone can whistle. However, not everyone can whistle well, so Mother Whistler Day helps to appreciate the art.

  2. It educates people

    Finding out about Mother Whistler Day makes people look up history to find out why the day isn’t about who it is named after. This helps everyone, as no knowledge is wasted.

  3. It improves people’s whistling

    Many people don’t consciously try to improve on their whistling. Mother Whistler Day would serve as a reminder to improve on it.

Mother Whistler Day dates

YearDateDay
2023May 18Thursday
2024May 18Saturday
2025May 18Sunday
2026May 18Monday
2027May 18Tuesday

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