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

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Grey and Silver: Pourville

Provenance

  • 1899/1902: bought from the artist through the Company of the Butterfly by William Keeney Bixby (1857-1931) , St Louis, MO;
  • 1931: bequeathed to his son, William Hoxie Bixby (1888-1967) , St Louis, MO, and still in his possession in 1945;
  • 1955/1965: according to the owner, W. H. Bixby, the painting was stolen.

In May 1902 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) appears to have collected a painting for William Keeney Bixby (1857-1931): Whistler's account, dated June 1902 records that 'Marine "Grey & Silver, Trouville"' was bought from the Company of the Butterfly (Whistler's brief-lived business outlet) in May 1902 'for W K Bixby Esq. / [£]262.10.0'. 1 C. L. Freer recorded the price of ‘Grey & Silver - Trouville’ as 250 guineas, and delivered the painting to Bixby in 1902. 2

W. H. Bixby confirmed that his father, W. K. Bixby, bought a painting (which he called ‘Blue and Grey, Trouville’) from Whistler, and C. L. Freer brought it to America for Bixby senior. 3 On W. K. Bixby's death the painting passed to W. H. Bixby who stated in 1965 that it was no longer in his possession, having been stolen 'a few years ago' in transit to New York. 4

Exhibitions

  • 1901: 3rd Exhibition, Pictures, Drawings, Prints and Sculptures, International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, Galleries of the Royal Institute, London, 1901 (cat. no. 38) as ‘Gray and Silver - Pourville’.
  • 1904: Oil Paintings, Water Colors, Pastels and Drawings: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Mr. J. McNeill Whistler, Copley Society, Boston, 1904 (cat. no. 9) as ‘Grey and Silver, Trouville’.
  • 1905: 100th Anniversary Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1905 (cat. no. 421) as 'Blue and Gray: Trouville'.

Grey and Silver: Pourville [YMSM 522] and Green and Silver: The Great Sea [YMSM 518] were described in 1901 as 'notes of the shifting light and colour of sea and sky' and 'pleasant little studies of the sea.' 5 The Glasgow Herald on 5 October 1901 wrote that they were 'true in tone' and 'weave an enchantment for us.' It was further praised by the Daily News on 12 October 1901 as showing 'mastery over his material, the fewness of his strokes, and the certainty of his effect' and the sky was described as 'leaden-edged with light.' The British Architect admired the 'beautiful colour, 'The grey sand, dull green sea, and blue-grey lowering sky.' 6

Notes:

1: Whistler to Freer, a/c, [23 March 1900/June 1902], GUW #13883.

2: Memo., dated 16 June 1902; Diaries, Bk 12, Freer Gallery Archives.

3: W. H. Bixby to F. W. Coburn, 14 November 1945, GU WPP file. This title was also given in 100th Anniversary Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1905 (cat. no. 421) when the owner was named 'W. K. Kirby'!

4: M. W. Rogers Jr. to A. McL. Young, 16 December 1965, GU WPP file.

5: Chronicle, London, 5 October 1901; Morning Post, London, 7 October 1901. Press cutting album in Victoria and Albert Museum, pp. 6, 4.

6: 'The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers', British Architect, 11 October 1901.

Last updated: 5th June 2021 by Margaret