American boy makes good

London We can be justifiably proud of James MacNeill Whistler. Born in Massachusetts, he was a citizen of the world and made a major impact in the world of art, after people got over his fresh approach to portraiture and the use of color.

There was a lovely exhibit at the Royal Academy of his portraits of his lover and muse, Jo Hiffernan, known more generally as the “Woman in White.” The exhibit focused on three paintings, titled Symphonies in White I, II and III, after a critic described what is now the best known of the three musically, rather than with the usual painting lexicon.

All are beautiful, but the focal point, the standing woman who looks directly at us, was large and imposing. So much more entrancing than his mother, though we understand that to be a brilliant use of greys and shading. It was a lovely show, with a good gift shop and an decent café. What more could one want?

Perhaps you are missing more details on the iconic treasures of London – the Tower, St. Paul’s, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, etc. Apologies to all, but we’ve already been there, done that, and will refer you to earlier posts of Go Know for possible sightings from previous visits.

However, we did pass a few notable sights on our way with our friend to her club, the Royal Society of Arts.

(Ten extra points if you spotted the London Eye.) We were honored to take tea with our friend, a Fellow of the RSA, which has the patronage of the Princess Royal, Anne. The list of presidents includes every notable from Stephen Hawking to Winston Churchill and Colin Powell. Very impressive – and a good pot of tea.

We aren’t pushing ourselves on this trip. In the ancient past, where we had two weeks to see several countries and all their top spots, we worked a lot harder and were a lot more tired. How wonderful to be able to take our time, avoid the big tourist spots, and fill in the blanks with new sights and time with old friends.

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