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.'
Translation:'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
Last updated: 22nd October 2020 by Margaret