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

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The Master Smith of Lyme Regis

The Master Smith of Lyme Regis dates from between September 1895 and 1896. 1


                The Master Smith of Lyme Regis, Boston Museum of Fine Arts
The Master Smith of Lyme Regis, Boston Museum of Fine Arts

It was started in Lyme Regis, Dorset, between September and October 1895. On 2 November 1895 the art dealer David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), who had just visited Whistler in Lyme Regis, thanked him for having shown him 'The Master Smith':

'The artistic treat of seeing the Royalties of Lyme Regis was one never to be forgotten. The Master Smith, The Rose, The Infanta & the other princess are indelibly impressed on my memory & I cannot too warmly speak of their gorgeous colour, their exquisite style & harmony.' 2

On 6 November 1895 Whistler wrote asking Thomson not to mention the 'Master Smith' to his wife, 'as I want to keep that as a surprise!' 3 According to Thomson, it was 'Painted, in all its preliminary stages,' at Lyme Regis in 1895, but completed back in London at 8 Fitzroy Street. 4

On 6 March 1896 Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) of H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, wrote asking Whistler to send him 'a fine "black-smith"' which his brother David A. Kennedy (fl. 1895-1915) had seen in London. 5 Whistler replied, 'Smith - well I think you would like that - but ... it has not been seen here at all!' and later, he wrote, 'Keeping Smith a bit to see if further precious touches - probably between 600 & 800 gs.' 6

Notes:

1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 450).

2: GUW #05827.

3: [6 November 1895], GUW #08393.

4: Thomson 1897 [more] , at p. 10.

5: GUW #07269.

6: Whistler to Kennedy, [28 March 1896] and [8/25 April 1896], GUW #09739, and #09745.

Last updated: 4th June 2021 by Margaret