For Immediate Release
July 1, 2015

Williamstown, MA—Leslie Paisley, head of paper conservation at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, considers the importance of paper to James McNeill Whistler and how these choices affected the works on view in the Clark’s exhibition Whistler’s Mother: Grey, Black, and White in a public lecture on Friday, July 17 at 3:30 pm. The lecture will be held in the exhibition gallery in the Lunder Center at Stone Hill on the Clark’s campus.

Paisley, who performed conservation treatment on several works in the exhibition, discusses the process and challenges of paper conservation. She provides examples of papers similar to those Whistler used, allowing visitors to “experience” the paper they normally can only see through the frame.

“Whistler particularly liked old and unique papers and carefully considered the relationship between the image and the support,” Paisley said, noting that the artist collected and often printed on antique papers. “He did not use the word ‘dirt’ but instead referred to aged papers as having ‘tone.’”

Whistler’s Mother: Grey, Black, and White features Whistler’s most famous painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother), familiarly known as Whistler’s Mother. The painting serves as the centerpiece of an exhibition featuring a selection of Whistler’s prints and drawings, Japanese woodblock prints that inspired the artist, and ephemera that explore the image’s role in popular culture. The exhibition is on view July 4 through September 27, 2015.

Leslie Paisley received her early conservation training at the Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard University Art Museums. She is a practicing conservator and has been head of the paper conservation department at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center since 1989. She has trained numerous graduate conservation students and teaches in the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. Paisley is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.


The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, open to the public with more than 240,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open daily in July and August, 10 am to 5 pm; open September through June, Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit or call 413 458 2303.

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