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Menpes was a pupil of James Abbott McNeil Whistler (1934-1903), and
influence can be seen in Menpes' style. Whistler was pleased with the critical admiration his pupil received but appears not to have approved of Menpes' next step which was to travel to Japan in 1887. Whistler was infuriated by his pupil's self-conscious break with all his precepts, not least because, when he showed his Japanese paintings in London, he refused to sign himself 'Pupil of Whistler'. Whistler never forgave Menpes, although it has been suggested that the real cause of Whistler's ire was Menpes' elopement with his mistress. Later Menpes travelled widely in Europe, India, Burma, Mexico, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa. He also worked as a painter, etcher and illustrator of travel books. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1880.