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

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Subject Unknown


It is not absolutely certain that the documents refer to the same picture, but possible references are as follows:

  • 'toile de vingt' (1862, Whistler). 1
  • 'une tranchée de chemin de fer' (1862, Whistler). 2
  • 'Subject Unknown' (1980, YMSM). 3


If the letters cited under DATE all refer to the same canvas, then it showed 'une tranchée de chemin de fer' (a railway cutting). 4

White Note, Colby College Museum of Art
White Note, Colby College Museum of Art

There is a railway cutting in the middle distance in A White Note [YMSM 044], but it could hardly be considered the principal subject of the painting.


This was painted in Guéthary, Basses-Pyrénées, and may have shown a landscape there, but it could possibly have included a figure or figures.


1: Whistler to G. A. Lucas, 18 October 1862, GUW #09187.

2: Whistler to Fantin-Latour, [24/31 October 1862] or earlier in the month, GUW #08029.

3: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 42).

4: Whistler to Fantin-Latour, [24/31 October 1862], op. cit., GUW #08029.

Last updated: 26th November 2019 by Margaret