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

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Green and Grey. Channel


Suggested titles are as follows:

  • 'Blue and Gold. Channel', corrected to 'Green and Grey. Channel' (1892, Goupil). 1
  • 'The Sea' (1904, Copley Society, Boston). 2
  • 'The Sea' (1980, YMSM). 3
  • 'Green and Grey. Channel' (2018, WPP).

There is not much 'blue' in the picture, and the revised title 'Green and Grey. Channel' is more appropriate than the first version published in 1892, and is the preferred title.


                    Green and Grey. Channel, Montclair Art Museum, NJ
Green and Grey. Channel, Montclair Art Museum, NJ

A seascape in horizontal format: it shows green seas with waves breaking on a beach at left, under a pale blue sky scattered with scudding clouds. In the lower right corner is a sailing boat heeling over to left in the wind as it puts off to sea.


Probably Trouville on the coast of France.


William H. Gerdts comments,

'James A. McNeill Whistler ... approaches Impressionism in his simplification of form and his sense of the moment, though in his masterful nocturnes and his paintings of the sea, his concern with openness, emptiness, and asymmetrical design suggest his receptivity to the newly discovered art of the Orient.' 4

The Montclair Art Museum website comments :

'This seascape from the French Channel resort of Trouville was painted outdoors, or en plein air. Whistler's fresh response to nature was influenced by such avant-garde French artists as Gustave Courbet, whom the young American was visiting when he painted this masterpiece. However, The Sea [now known as Green and Grey. Channel] also demonstrates Whistler's growing disenchantment with the "here and now" of Courbet's naturalism. In The Sea, nature coexists with the artist's imagination. Whistler induces a meditative mood through reductive composition, silvery light, semitransparent brushwork, harmonious pale colors, and flattened space ̶ all qualities that influenced the American Tonalists.' 5


1: Nocturnes, Marines & Chevalet Pieces, Goupil Gallery, London, 1892, 1st and 2nd editions (cat. no. 26).

2: Oil Paintings, Water Colors, Pastels and Drawings: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Mr. J. McNeill Whistler, Copley Society, Boston, 1904 (cat. no. 69).

3: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 69).

4: Gerdts, William H., 'Introduction, The American Painting Collection of the Montclair Art Museum', website at reprinted in Resource Library on 25 July 2008.

5: Montclair Art Museum website at

Last updated: 11th November 2021 by Margaret