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

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Caprice in Red




  • 1885: Winter Exhibition, Society of British Artists, London, 1885 (cat. no. 570) as 'Caprice in Red'.
  • 1889: Possibly “Notes” – “Harmonies” – “Nocturnes”, H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, 1889 (cat. no. 1) as 'Caprice in Red'.

A critic commented that there was 'nothing capricious, unless it be the price. It is a perfectly well ordered study of flesh colour and red - an energetic model, springing, as it were - or, as it is, from the unfolded and widely extended drapery.' 1 Similarly the St James's Gazette on 7 December 1885 described it as 'capricious only in price: as a note of pose and colour it is very like a note by any one else.' Numerous reviews mocked the title, or picked up on the reference to 'Caprice'. 'Some are full of suggestiveness and beauty', wrote The Globe on 5 December 1885, 'while others are remarkable chiefly for the capriciousness of treatment.'

It was priced at 100 guineas in 1889, a high price, which may explain why it remained unsold, and was returned after the exhibition by Wunderlich's on the SS Servia. 2

                    Dancing girl, The Higgins, Bedford
Dancing girl, The Higgins, Bedford

It is possible that it was Dancing girl [M.1068], or a similar composition.


1: GUL Whistler PC3 p. 1.

2: G. Dieterlen, H. Wunderlich & Co., Wunderlich to Whistler, 1 November 1889, GUW #07187.

Last updated: 26th June 2021 by Margaret