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 An unidentified three-quarter-length 'Portrait of a Lady' had been withdrawn from a sale by Robinson and Fisher on 30 July 1896 (cat.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.
It was not exhibited, as far as is known, in Whistler's lifetime.
Last updated: 1st December 2020 by Margaret