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

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The Artist's Studio


  • 1870/1878: Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890), London;
  • 1890: passed to his executrix, Alice Mary Chambers (1854-1920);
  • 1904: sold at auction, Robinson & Fisher, London, bought by Sir Hugh Percy Lane (1875-1915), London and Dublin;
  • 1908: given by Sir Hugh Lane in his initial gift towards the foundation of the Dublin Municipal Gallery of Modern Art (now called the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane).

According to the Pennells, The Artist's Studio [YMSM 062] was first owned by C. A. Howell, but was 'left ... as security with a lawyer', and Howell's executrix, Miss Alice Chambers, put it up for auction by Robinson & Fisher, about 1901, with a startling lack of success:

'… in the middle of the sale, Whistler came in, declared the picture [was] not by him, and the result was that it did not sell. After Whistler's death the lawyer made a statutory declaration that Whistler said the picture was his work, it was sent again to Robinson & Fisher's and was sold for a comparatively small sum.' 1

If this story is true, it was not a unique occasion. An unidentified three-quarter-length 'Portrait of a Lady' had been withdrawn from a sale by Robinson and Fisher on 30 July 1896 (cat. no. 179), after Whistler declared it was not by him. 2 However, there is no reference in Whistler's letters or documents to a later auction.

According to Lady Gregory, when Sir Hugh Lane was seeking support for the foundation of a Gallery of Modern Art for Dublin, the artist John Lavery (1856-1941) approached Whistler, who agreed to give a picture, but it seems he did not fulfil the offer. 3 According to Lane himself, Whistler had refused to sell The Artist's Studio [YMSM 062] because 'he liked it as a sketch, and eventually painted Mr Freshfield's picture [The Artist in his Studio (Whistler in his Studio) [YMSM 063]] from it.' 4 It is likely that it was actually bought by Hugh Lane, after Whistler's death, from the sale in the following year, 1904, and was exhibited with Pictures presented to the City of Dublin to form the Nucleus of a Gallery of Modern Art, at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, in that year.


  • 1904: Pictures presented to the City of Dublin to form the Nucleus of a Gallery of Modern Art, also pictures lent by the executors of the late James Staats Forbes and others, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, 1904 (cat. no. 77) as 'The Artist's Studio'.
  • 1905: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1905 (cat. no. 15) as 'The Artist's Studio'.

It was not exhibited, as far as is known, in Whistler's lifetime.


1: Pennell 1921C [more], pp. 69-70.

2: Whistler to W. Webb, 28 July 1896, GUW #06236 see also #06237.

3: Gregory, Lady Isabella Augusta, Hugh Lane’s Life and Achievement, London, 1921, p. 243.

4: Gallatin 1913 B [more], at pp. 154-55.

Last updated: 1st December 2020 by Margaret