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

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Symphony in White and Red

Symphony in White and Red is one of the 'Six Projects' and dates from 1868. 1 The 'Six Projects' comprise Venus [YMSM 082], Symphony in Green and Violet [YMSM 083], Variations in Blue and Green [YMSM 084], Symphony in White and Red [YMSM 085] and Symphony in Blue and Pink [YMSM 086] and The White Symphony: Three Girls [YMSM 087]. This group of paintings was mentioned by William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919) in his diary for 28 July 1868, when he wrote that Whistler was 'doing on a largish scale for Leyland the subject of women and flowers.' 2

Symphony in White and Red, Freer Gallery of Art
Symphony in White and Red, Freer Gallery of Art

It was described by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) in the spring of 1868 as 'the third of these studies [in which] the sea is fresher, lightly kindling under a low clear wind; at the end of a pier a boat is moored and women in the delicate bright robes of eastern fashion and colour so dear to the painter are about to enter it.' 3


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 85).

2: Rossetti 1903 [more], p. 320.

3: Swinburne 1875 [more], p. 360.

Last updated: 23rd November 2020 by Margaret