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


Several possible titles have been suggested:

  • 'Grey and brown – The Sad Sea Shore' (1886, Dowdeswell). 1
  • Possible 'Gris et brun: La Plage' (1887, Petit). 2
  • 'Grau und Brun. Ruhige See' (1888, III. Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung, Munich). 3
  • 'Grey and Brown The Sad Sea – Dieppe' (1889, Wunderlich). 4
  • 'Grey and Brown: The Sad Sea Shore' (1980, YMSM). 5

'Grey and Brown: The Sad Sea Shore' is the preferred title. This is an unusual, emotive and rather negative title, though it matches the subdued colouring of the chilly scene.


                    Grey and Brown: The Sad Sea Shore, Freer Gallery of Art
Grey and Brown: The Sad Sea Shore, Freer Gallery of Art

A beach scene in horizontal format. Several figures sit in the middle of a beige/brown beach, and others are walking by the shore in the distance at right. The sea beyond is a pale grey.


Painted at Dieppe, on the French coast, a busy port and seaside resort. Whistler visited Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) and his wife there during the autumn of 1885. 6


1: 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Second Series, Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1886 (cat. no. 43) (catalogue annotated by Whistler, GUL BP 11).

2: Exposition Internationale de Peinture et de Sculpture, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1887 (cat. no. 184).

3: III. Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung, Königlicher Glaspalast, Munich, 1888 (cat. no. 63), priced £20 (GUL BP 25).

4: “Notes” – “Harmonies” – “Nocturnes”, H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, 1889 (cat. no. 27).

5: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 330).

6: Dempsey 1966 [more] , p. 32.

Last updated: 31st December 2020 by Margaret