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

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Low Tide


                    Low Tide, Freer Gallery of Art
Low Tide, Freer Gallery of Art

It is painted with expressive brush strokes, with a small brush, in thin paint on an off-white prepared panel. The colour is richer than in many of Whistler's panels of St Ives.

Anna Gruetzner Robins comments on Whistler's use of experimental colour:

'In Low Tide … a view of the lee of St Ives Harbour, ... intense blue colour, swept along the rim of the two upturned boats, counters the diagonal strokes of liquid grey-brown of the sand. Flat wedges of light yellow pick out the Sloop Inn and other buildings along the front. Low Tide is about choices: the cluster of fishermen round the wooden shack are hardly noticeable and flat areas of colour engulf this picturesque scene. 1

Conservation History

Freer Gallery files record that the varnish was removed in 1921, the painting was resurfaced in 1931, cleaned and varnished in 1937, resurfaced in 1938, and cleaned and surfaced in 1951. There appear to be areas of paint loss in the top half of the picture, as if some small pieces of paint had flaked or been knocked off. The paint at the edges of the panel is considerably abraded.


                    Low Tide, Freer Gallery of Art
Low Tide, Freer Gallery of Art

Large Dowdeswell frame, probably made for Whistler's 1884 exhibition [14.1 cm]. 2


1: Robins 2007 [more] , p. 26.

2: Dr S. L. Parkerson Day, Report on frames, 2017; see also Parkerson 2007 [more] .

Last updated: 25th November 2020 by Margaret