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

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Grey and Brown: The Sad Sea Shore

Provenance

  • 1889: possibly bought from Wunderlich, New York art dealer, by C. A. Miller (dates unknown) .
  • ca 1900: possibly owned by James Staats Forbes (1823-1904) .
  • 1914: bought from Knoedler's, New York art dealers, by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) , Detroit;
  • 1919: bequeathed by C. L. Freer to the Freer Gallery of Art.

It was exhibited with “Notes” – “Harmonies” – “Nocturnes”, H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, 1889 (cat. no. 27) as 'Grey and Brown The Sad Sea - Dieppe' priced at £35. 1 According to a list of buyers, it was bought from the exhibition by a C. A. Miller, but the sale is annotated 'disappeared'. 2 There are several gaps in the provenance and this sale is not certain.

It was at one time, according to C. L. Freer, in the 'Forbes' collection: possibly he meant James Staats Forbes (1823-1904).


                    Grey and Brown: The Sad Sea Shore, photograph, 1913/1914
Grey and Brown: The Sad Sea Shore, photograph, 1913/1914

It was later acquired by Knoedler's, who sold it to C. L. Freer in January 1914 for $2005.

Exhibitions

  • 1886: 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Second Series, Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1886 (cat. no. 43) as 'Grey and brown – The Sad Sea Shore'.
  • 1887: possibly Exposition Internationale de Peinture et de Sculpture, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1887 (cat. no. 184) as 'Gris et brun: La Plage'.
  • 1888: III. Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung, Königlicher Glaspalast, Munich, 1888 (cat. no. 63) as 'Grau und Brun. Ruhige See'.
  • 1889: “Notes” – “Harmonies” – “Nocturnes”, H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, 1889 (cat. no. 27) as 'Grey and Brown The Sad Sea – Dieppe'.

At Dowdeswell's in 1886 it was priced at £35. 3 It was grouped with a number of other small works approved of by the Illustrated London News, on 15 May 1886. However, it was the target selected by one journalist: 'he takes a small canvas, across the middle of which he draws a line, the top he fills in with grey supposed to be sky and sea – the lower half with a dirty drab ... Two or three smudges represent people sitting on the beach.' 4

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

Notes:

1: Catalogue annotated by Whistler, GUL Whistler EC 1889.

2: Hermann Wunderlich and Co. to Whistler, April 1889, GUW #07175.

3: Catalogue annotated by Whistler, GUL Whistler EC 1886.

4: Undated press cutting, labelled 'Morning Post', in GUL Whistler BP III PC, p. 120.

Last updated: 31st December 2020 by Margaret