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

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Arrangement in Black: Reading


Several possible titles have been suggested:

  • 'Arrangement in black – Reading' (1884, Dowdeswell). 1
  • Probably 'Note in black: Reading' or 'Note in Black' (1887, Royal Society of British Artists). 2
  • 'Eine schwarze Stimmung' (1888, Königlicher Glaspalast, Munich). 3
  • 'Note noir. La liseuse' (1888, Whistler). 4
  • 'Arrangement in Black – Reading' (1889, Wunderlich). 5
  • 'An arrangement in Black' (1905, ISSPG). 6
  • 'Arrangement in Black: Reading' (1980, YMSM). 7

'Arrangement in Black: Reading' is the preferred title.


                    Arrangement in Black: Reading, photograph
Arrangement in Black: Reading, photograph

A figure study in vertical format. A woman in a black dress sits reading a book, against a black background. She is in profile to right, but turned a little to her left, at a slight angle to the panel, sitting on a simple wooden chair.




1: 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884 (cat. no. 26).

2: 64th Annual Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887 (cat. no. 155 or 25); see Arrangement in Black: Girl Reading [YMSM 223].

3: III. Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung, Königlicher Glaspalast, Munich, 1888 (cat. no. 59).

4: List, [June 1888], GUW #04203.

5: 1 November 1889, GUW #07187.

6: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1905 (cat. no. 71). According to the 1905 exhibition catalogue, the painting had 'on the back the signature, and the title "An arrangement in black by J. McNeill Whistler", in artist's handwriting.'

7: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 224).

Last updated: 28th May 2021 by Margaret