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

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r.: TĂȘte d'homme barbu; v.: Head of a woman


  • 1903: in Whistler's studio at his death in 1903 and bequeathed to his sister-in-law, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) ;
  • 1935: given to the University of Glasgow.


  • 1886: Possibly 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Second Series, Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1886 (cat. no. 72 or 73) as 'Portrait'.
  • 1889: Possibly Retrospective Exhibition, College for Working Men and Women, London, 1889 (no cat. nos).
  • 1905: Œuvres de James McNeill Whistler, Palais de l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1905 (cat. no. 172) as 'Tête d'homme barbu'.

Charles de Kay, describing Whistler's 1886 exhibition, wrote: 'Pencil sketches and a framed joke from Punch ... complete the round of this curious little den.' 1 There were five pencil drawings in the show, and Whistler's inscription, 'No.5', suggests this drawing was one of these. It is one of five drawings that came to Glasgow University similarly mounted and framed, which all appear to correspond to the Dowdeswell titles: Mother and child [M.1062], Baby's head [M.1063], Child [M.1064], Woman and child [M.1065]. See also Tête d'homme barbu [M.1099] and Harper Pennington [M.1100].

On the other hand, the numbering may refer to the exhibition organised by Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) in May 1889. This included what the Evening News on 14 May 1889 called 'pencil sketches of exceeding interest'.

NOTE: By the terms of Miss Birnie Philip's Gift, this work cannot be lent to another venue.


1: Charles de Kay, 'Whistler. The head of the Impressionists', Art Review, I, no. 1, 1886, pp. 1-3, at p. 2.

Last updated: 8th December 2020 by Margaret