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

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Symphony in Grey: Early Morning, Thames

Technique


                    Symphony in Grey: Early Morning, Thames, Freer Gallery of Art
Symphony in Grey: Early Morning, Thames, Freer Gallery of Art

It is thinly painted in shades of grey over a red ground on fine canvas, the grain of the canvas showing through the paint. The brushstrokes sweep straight across the canvas from left to right, conveying light and space, ripples and reflections. Although subdued in tone, and partly lost in the grey atmosphere, the details of buildings, chimneys and smoke on the south side of the river were painted very carefully with small brushes.

Conservation History

According to Freer Gallery files, the varnish was removed and the canvas relined in 1921; it was surfaced in 1933, and cleaned and surfaced in 1951.

Frame

  • 1872: the style and whereabouts of the original frame are unknown.
  • 1904: Grau-style, American.

                    Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea, Tate
Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea, Tate

Symphony in Grey: Early Morning, Thames was first exhibited in 1872 and may therefore have had a reeded cassetta painted frame similar to that on Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea [YMSM 103], reproduced above, and Variations in Pink and Grey: Chelsea [YMSM 105].


                    Symphony in Grey: Early Morning, Thames, Freer Gallery of Art
Symphony in Grey: Early Morning, Thames, Freer Gallery of Art

                    Symphony in Grey: Early Morning, Thames, frame detail
Symphony in Grey: Early Morning, Thames, frame detail

The current Grau-style frame probably dates from after 1904, when the painting was bought by C. L. Freer.

Last updated: 31st December 2020 by Margaret