It was presumably bought by Duret from the artist about 1885, although there are no documents to corroborate this. By January 1909 Duret wished to sell his portrait to a museum and Roger Elliot Fry (1866-1934) wrote to Bryson Burroughs (1869-1934), of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, recommending its purchase, and claimed that Duret would present it to the Louvre unless his price was met. 1
In April 1884 Whistler sent the portrait of Duret from Paris for the Grosvenor Gallery exhibition in London, but Sir Coutts Lindsay rejected it, writing, 'I trust that you will withdraw [your portrait] of Monsieur Duret, the work is so incomplete & slightly made out that I cannot accept it at the Grosvenor.' 2 To this Whistler replied that his pictures were 'sunken in & degraded & begrimed with dirt from their journey', but, he added, 'when properly hung cleaned & varnished - [it] would be the fine picture it was when I had painted it in my Studio.' 3 Whistler explained this away to Duret in his own fashion, ''They are vexed with me at the Grosvenor - and refuse to have it - saying I believe that it is too much the "Portrait of a Gentleman" ', so, he added, 'We will keep it and show it in Paris.' 4
At the Salon in 1885 the 'Portrait de M. Théodore Duret' was accepted, but skied, according to Octave Maus (1856-1919). 5 Whistler himself was a little concerned, and asked the artist Otto Henry Bacher (1856-1909),
'How do you like his [Duret's] own portrait? doesn't he stand well? -
They say that this picture is hung rather high - but I daresay it is none the worse for that.' 6
Bacher's reply is not recorded.
1: Letters, 15 January and 16 February 1909; quoted by Sutton, Denys, (ed.)., The Letters of Roger Fry, 2 vols., London, 1972, pp. 310-13.
5: Maus, Octave, L'Art Moderne, 24 May 1885, p. 164.
Last updated: 4th December 2020 by Margaret