Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

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The Artist's Studio

The Artist's Studio was probably painted in London in 1865, and relates closely to Whistler in his Studio [YMSM 063]. 1

The Artist's Studio, Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane
The Artist's Studio, Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane

It is possible that it was painted from 1865 to 1866 and was continued into the early 1870s, as was Whistler in his Studio [YMSM 063].

Both The Artist's Studio and Whistler in his Studio [YMSM 063] relate to a large picture Whistler intended to submit to the Salon in 1866. He described the proposed figure composition to Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) on 16 August 1865:

'J'ai pour le salon une réunion de nous autres à mon tour - j'en ai fait une esquisse qui est bigrement bien - ca représente l'intérieur de mon atelier - porcelaine et tout! Il y a toi et [Albert] Moore, la fille blanche assise sur un canapé et la Japonaise qui se promène! enfin un apothéose de tout ce qui peut scandaliser les Académiciens, les couleurs choisies sont charmantes. moi en gris clair - la robe blanche de Jo - la robe couleur de chair de la Japonaise (vue de dos) toi et Moore en noir - le fond de l'atelier gris - c'est en hauteur, et aura à peu près dix pieds de haut, sur six ou sept de large.' 2

Translation: 'In my turn I have a reunion of all of us for the Salon - I have done a sketch of it which is really good - it shows the interior of my studio - porcelain and all. You are there, and Moore, the white girl sitting on the couch, and the Japanese girl walking around! An apotheosis therefore of everything to outrage the Academicians, the colours I have chosen are charming - Me in light grey - Jo's white dress - the flesh-coloured dress of the Japanese girl (seen from behind) you and Moore in black - the studio background grey - It's upright, and will be about ten feet high, and six or seven wide.'

Both Whistler in his Studio and The Artist's Studio differ from this description, in that neither Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893) nor Fantin-Latour are shown. The phrase 'à mon tour' refers to Fantin-Latour's group portraits, Hommage à Delacroix (Salon 1864; Musée d'Orsay, Paris) and Hommage à la Verité: Le Toast, in both of which Whistler's portrait appeared. Le Toast was shown at the Salon in 1865, then cut into fragments by the artist. Some of the portrait heads survive, the self-portrait and the portrait of Whistler being in the Freer Gallery of Art. There is, however, no record of Whistler going on to paint the large picture mentioned in his letter to Fantin-Latour.


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 62).

2: Whistler to Fantin-Latour, 16 August [1865], GUW #11477.

Last updated: 13th March 2019 by Margaret