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

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Portrait of Captain Williams


Only one title has been suggested:

  • 'Portrait of Captain Williams' (1980, YMSM). 1


A portrait of a man of about fifty years of age.


C. P. Williams, photograph, Private Collection
C. P. Williams, photograph, Private Collection

'Captain Williams' was almost certainly Charles Phelps Williams (1804-1879).

Whistler's mother, Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), did not like Captain Williams. She wrote to Whistler in 1856, at a time when Williams and his daughter were travelling in Europe, 'I wonder if you have stumbled upon the Williams! I cant write you a sketch of his rudeness at me for I never have personal intercourse with him, but I hope you may never seek him tho he & Bessie & Georgie B are from Stonington.' 2 The daughter mentioned was Bessie Williams (1833-1902). Her friend, Georgia Palmer Babcock (Mrs C. P. Williams) (1837–1910), married Captain Williams after the death of his first wife.


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 10).

2: A. M. Whistler to J. Whistler, 23 September 1856, GUW #06476.

Last updated: 21st November 2019 by Margaret