Whistler was a prominent public figure in Victorian London and attracted much attention from critics and journalists. One of the first substantial critical studies of Whistler during his lifetime was Critique d'Avant-Garde by Théodore Duret (Paris, 1885).
A further large body of literature has emerged since his lifetime, led by Joseph and Elizabeth Robins Pennell. Their two-volume biography The Life of James McNeill Whistler first appeared in 1908, (London and Philadelphia) and remains the standard published source of information on Whistler.
Current standard reference works to Whistler's oeuvre:
(a) Graphic work:
- Edward G. Kennedy, The Etched Work of Whistler
(New York, 1910)
- Thomas R. Way, Mr Whistler's Lithographs
(2nd ed., London & New York, 1905)
- The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler. A Catalogue Raisonné
Nesta Spink, Harriet Stratis and Martha Tedeschi: with contributions by David Kiehl, Katherine Lochnan and Nicholas Smale. Includes edition of the correspondence between Whistler, Thomas Way and T.R. Way, ed. Nicholas Smale.
(Art Institute of Chicago, 1998).
- Andrew McLaren Young, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler
(London & New Haven, 1980)
(c) Drawings, pastels, watercolours:
- Margaret F. MacDonald, James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné
(London & New Haven, 1995)
Information on published sources about Whistler up to and including 1984 may be found in Robert H. Getscher & Paul G. Marks, James McNeill Whistler & John Singer Sargent: Two Annotated Bibliographies (New York & London, 1986)