Several possible titles have been suggested:
Whistler queried the title of the painting exhibited at the Society of French Artists (cat. no. 110) as 'The Yacht Race ̶ A Symphony in B sharp'. He wrote to the manager Charles William Deschamps (1848-1908),
'At first I took what the Observer of last Sunday said about Mr. Whistlers pun on "B Sharp", for some unwarrantable hoax of their own - And paid no further attention; but I find it repeated in other journals and am told that it is so in your catalogue! For this I am very sorry - I am convinced that you would not willingly have done any thing of the kind to annoy me ... but you see the names I give to my pictures really mean to indicate seriously the kind of work I am about -
And this or any other witticism from without thrown at me would do well enough, but I never joke with my own work myself and I cannot possibly let it be supposed that I should do so - The upshot of all this is that I beg you will scratch "Symphony in B Sharp" out of your catalogue - Leave 'Yacht Race' if you like - though I regret immensely having been knocked over by my illness so immediately after seeing you - and so prevented from seeing the picture and doing anything about either its name or its frame - Also that I shall probably have to write a line to the Athenaeum to explain this and that I hope you will not be vexed at my so doing.' 13
C. W. Deschamps replied that the title 'The Yacht race / A Symphony in B Sharp' was written on a label on the back and signed 'J. Whistler'. 14
Whistler wrote to the Athenaeum on 22 November 1873 protesting that this was not the original title, and adding: 'The titles I have hitherto given to my pictures have been intended by me as a key to my work simply; but I cannot expect others, who do not understand them, to refuse themselves any witticism, like the above brilliant parody, on the subject.' 15
'Blue and Silver: Trouville' is the preferred title.
A view from a sandy beach, in horizontal format. The beach extends from lower right upwards to left. There are a few rocks on the beach at lower right and further out in the sea. The sea is pale blue, a few waves breaking in the shallows. A couple of sailing boats are far out to sea to left. The sky is bright, pale blue with scudding white and grey clouds.
The coast at Trouville, France.
1: Sixth Exhibition of the Society of French Artists [Summer Exhibition], Deschamps Gallery, London, 1873 (cat. no. 110).
2: Exposition Internationale de Peinture, Galerie George Petit, Paris, 1883 (cat. no. 4).
7: VI. Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung, Königlicher Glaspalast, Munich, 1892 (cat. no. 1950b).
9: World's Columbian Exposition, Department of Fine Arts, Chicago, 1893 (cat. no. 768).
10: , n.d., Diaries, Bk 12, Freer Gallery of Art.
11: 2nd Exhibition, Pictures, Drawings, Prints and Sculptures, International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, London, 1899 (cat. no. 135).
Last updated: 3rd December 2020 by Margaret