With his knack for picking controversial subjects (Disraeli, Wilde, Shaw, etc.) Pearson here tackles a real rebel, both in art and in living. For Whistler perfected the ""art of making enemies"", insisted on ""art for art's sake"" and was an acid tempest in more than one artistic and personal teapot. A rootless American, after his failure at West Point, in engineering and coastal surveying, Paris and London and the continent were his backgrounds for the rest of his career. There was always the atmosphere of court trials and lawsuits, bankruptcy and skirmish after skirmish with friends who soon lost their patience; there were students who became slaves and mistresses who created social schisms; there was the fury of battle over his paintings which his hostility kept flaming; and there was always his biting tongue to skin an opponent. Within his aura for comedy, Whistler's life provides many pungent anecdotes and his final acclaim in art permits him to take his place among immortal eccentrics. A tolerant view of a difficult personality appraises him fairly and presents him with an easy familiarity.