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

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Dark Blue and Silver

Provenance

  • 1894: sold by the artist to Alfred Atmore Pope (1842-1913) , Cleveland, Ohio;
  • 1913: bequeathed to his daughter, Theodate Pope (1867-1946) , née Effie Brooks Pope, Farmington, CT;
  • 1946: on her death, 30 August 1946, the painting was in her house, which became the Hill-Stead Museum.

In 1894 it was twice offered for sale to Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), New York print dealer: 'I have two beautiful new sea pieces in the Grafton Gallery of the size of some of those you have seen in the Salon - 400 gs. each - I suppose you don't want to speculate!' 1 He complained about Kennedy's demand for 'new work':

'I wonder what you think I can be about, in the Studio, if you believe that I am not painting "new pictures!" - At the present moment there are, in The Grafton Gallery, three pictures of mine - brand new - and finer, so they say, than anything I have ever done of their kind before - Two of them I want four hundred guineas apiece for ... Do you want to buy them? - But you tell me you cannot ... Why this chalange [sic] for new work? There is plenty of it in the Studio now - Do you know any one in America wanting it?' 2

Whistler also offered Violet and Silver: A Deep Sea [YMSM 411] and Dark Blue and Silver [YMSM 412] to Messrs Graves, London dealers, for £400 to set against his debts:

'At the present moment I have in the Grafton Gallery three sea pieces - quite new - fresh and beautiful - I want four hundred apiece for them - Suppose you buy one and send me a cheque for two hundred - and deduct the other two hundred from your account.' 3

Having exhibited it at the Salon, Whistler offered it to David Croal Thomson (1855-1930). 4 Later that year, on 12 September 1894, A. A. Pope paid Whistler 400 guineas (£420) for 'Bleu et violet - En Danger'. 5 According to Pope's daughter, 'when he bought Violet and Blue, Mr. Whistler said to him, "Oh, Mr. Pope, you do not want another marine." Father said, "Yes, I do, because they are so different in treatment." ' Whereas Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz [YMSM 041] showed the influence of Courbet, Pope thought Dark Blue and Silver [YMSM 412] showed 'the influence of the Japanese,' but Whistler replied, 'Oh, they are all the same'! 6

Whistler reported to E. G. Kennedy, 'Just sold one of the two larger sea pieces you remember at the Champs de Mars - the "Violet & Blue" one with the big wave - £420.' 7

Exhibitions

  • 1894: Fair Women, Grafton Galleries, London, 1894 (cat. no. 49) as 'Dark Blue and Silver'.
  • 1894: Exposition Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Champ de Mars, Paris, 1894 (cat. no. 1182) as 'le Danger. – Bleu fonce et argent'.
  • 1897: Second Annual Exhibition, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 1897 (cat. no. 234) as 'Symphony in Violet and Blue'.
  • 1898: Sixty-Seventh Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1898 (cat. no. 461).
  • 1898: Twentieth Annual Exhibition of the Society of American Artists at the Galleries of the American Fine Arts Society, New York, 1898 (cat. no. 321).
  • 1904: Oil Paintings, Water Colors, Pastels and Drawings: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Mr. J. McNeill Whistler, Copley Society, Boston, 1904 (cat. no. 30) as 'Symphony in Violet and Blue'.

The Globe asserted that Whistler's 'two sea studies, “Dark Blue and Silver” and Violet and Silver a Deep Sea,” [were] both vividly suggestive of irresistible movement and vast space.' 8 The art critic of The Athenaeum commented that the style, 'though rather heavier and rougher than usual with [Whistler], embodies much of his sympathy for nature and his rare sense of homogeneous colours and tones in perfect harmony.' 9

According to Whistler his exhibits at the Grafton, Violet and Silver: A Deep Sea [YMSM 411], Dark Blue and Silver [YMSM 412] and Violet and Blue: Among the Rollers [YMSM 413] were 'three sea pieces - quite new - fresh and beautiful.' 10 The three seascapes were Violet and Silver: A Deep Sea [YMSM 411], Dark Blue and Silver and Violet and Blue: Among the Rollers [YMSM 413].

In February of the same year, The Sketch mentioned Dark Blue and Silver and Violet and Silver: A Deep Sea as being on show at the Fine Art Society, but this may have been a mistake. 11

Notes:

1: 22 January 1894, GUW #09714; See Violet and Silver: A Deep Sea [YMSM 411].

2: 1 March 1894, GUW #07232.

3: Whistler to A. Graves, [January 1894] formerly dated [12/15 December 1893], GUW #01834.

4: [15 July 1894], GUW #08255.

5: GUW #09342.

6: Theodate Pope Riddle (Mrs J. W. Riddle) to J. W. Revillon, 26 March 1946, GUL WPP files.

7: Whistler to Kennedy, 22 September 1894, GUW

8: Anon., 'The Grafton Gallery', Globe, London, 22 January 1894, p. 3.

9: The Athenaeum, London, 27 January 1894, p. 119.

10: Whistler to A. Graves, [January 1894] formerly dated [12/15 December 1893], GUW #01834.

11: 'Art Notes', The Sketch, London, 7 February 1894, pp. 24-25.

Last updated: 21st November 2020 by Margaret