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

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Low Tide


  • 1885: bought from Messrs Dowdeswell by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) ;
  • 1902: bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) , Detroit;
  • 1919: bequeathed by C. L. Freer to the Freer Gallery of Art.

It was probably exhibited in Whistler's one-man show 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884 and bought by H. S. Theobald in the following year, but the catalogue number has not been identified. Theobald was almost certainly the collector described by Whistler as having bought a number of paintings after the exhibition: he wrote to Walter Dowdeswell (1858-1929): 'you must arrange with the man who bought the lot that remained over after the exhibition of the "Flesh color & grey", to let his collection go with me to America.' 1

In June 1902, Whistler sent C. L. Freer a telegram 'Theobald paintings at Marchants') informing him that the paintings owned by Theobald were apparently for sale. 2 It was bought in the following month by C. L. Freer for $750.


  • Possibly shown in 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884 or Sixty-third Annual Exhibition, Society of British Artists, London, 1886.

Robins and Myers suggested that it was exhibited as Sands: Blue Note [YMSM 268] in 1884 (cat. no. 4). 3

Although it was almost certainly exhibited at Dowdeswell's with the other paintings bought by Theobald (Chelsea Shops [YMSM 246], Red and Pink: La Petite Mephisto [YMSM 255], The Sea and Sand [YMSM 288], The White House [YMSM 289], Blue and Grey: Unloading [YMSM 296], Violet and Silver: The Great Sea [YMSM 298], Black and Emerald: Coal Mine [YMSM 302], Note in Green: Wortley [YMSM 303], Harmony in Brown and Gold: Old Chelsea Church [YMSM 305], Red and Blue: Lindsey Houses [YMSM 306], Nocturne: Silver and Opal - Chelsea [YMSM 309]) it is not actually possible to identify it from any of the titles in the catalogue.

By the terms of C. L. Freer's bequest to the Freer Gallery of Art, the painting cannot be lent.


1: Whistler to W. Dowdeswell, [27 September 1885], GUW #08616. H. S. Theobald to Messrs Dowdeswell, receipt, 1 July 1885, GUW #00858; Dowdeswell's account, [July 1885/1886], GUW #00867; Whistler to W. Dowdeswell, [27 September 1885], GUW #08616.

2: 6 June 1902, GUW #11596

3: Myers 2003 [more] , p. 92; Robins 2007 [more] , pp. 26, 181n,15, repr. fig. 18.

Last updated: 25th November 2020 by Margaret