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

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Brown and Gold


  • 1903: in Whistler's studio at his death, and bequeathed to his ward and executrix, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958);
  • 1958: bequeathed by Miss R. Birnie Philip to the University of Glasgow.


  • 1900: Exposition Universelle, Grand Palais, Paris, 1900 (cat. no. 108 in the American section) as 'Brown and Gold'.

It was exhibited in the Exposition Universelle in Paris, where Gustave Geffroy (1855-1926) described it as 'vague tout d'abord comme une apparition, et si saisissant, si réel.' 1 According to the Pennells, Whistler regretted its exhibition and stated, on 10 May 1900: 'It was not ready, the colour has sunk in, you cannot see it, and really it is very swagger.' 2 E. G. Kennedy saw it in the exposition and wrote to Whistler on 8 May 1900, 'I got a glimpse of the Fine Arts Section of the exhibition. That of the U.S. is excellent, I think. Your portrait looks fine, and is beautiful in Colour.' 3 Whistler replied: 'I am glad you like the pictures - especially am I pleased with what you say about my own portrait - for I feared it might have been too sunken in to be at all seen.' 4

Whistler's paintings, however, met with mixed reviews. According to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), 'Our American papers have said many pleasant things about your portrait of yourself - I would like to see it.' 5 On the other hand, his old friend Théodore Duret (1838-1927) told Whistler:

'Vos deux tableaux sont naturellement combattus, par les bons petits camarades. On me dit: mais pourquoi Whistler n'a-t-il pas exposé ceci, cela, c'est-à-dire des oeuvres peintes il y a dix ou quinze ans? C'est toujours la même chose.'


'Your two pictures have naturally been attacked by the good little comrades. They ask me: but why hasn't Whistler exhibited this, that, in other words works painted ten or fifteen years ago? It is always the same thing.' 6

Whistler received a Grand prix for his paintings and one for his etchings. 7


1: Geffroy 1890 [more].

2: Pennell 1921C [more], p. 40.

3: GUW #07323.

4: [12 May 1900], GUW #09800.

5: 27 June 1900, GUW #01518.

6: 14 June 1900, GUW #00993.

7: B. J. Woodward to Whistler, 1 September 1900, GUW #04426.

Last updated: 22nd October 2020 by Margaret