Alfred Chapman owned several of Whistler's known paintings (Green and Grey. Channel [YMSM 069], Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Bognor [YMSM 100], Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Southampton Water [YMSM 117], and Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Chelsea Snow [YMSM 174]) and some that have not hitherto been identified (Nocturne: Battersea Reach [YMSM 160] and Cremorne [YMSM 168]).
Chapman was certainly starting to sell his collection of Whistlers by 1894, though it is not certain when he sold this particular painting. 1
Ann Y. Smith states that The Sea 'hung over the fireplace in Harris [Whittemore]'s living room. The [painting may even have inspired the remodeling of that room in 1915, when the upholstery and curtains were changed to blue damask, perhaps to complement the work's deep marine hues.' 2
It was listed as 'Blue and Gold. Channel', lent by Alfred Chapman, in the Goupil catalogue in 1892 (cat. no. 26) and called 'Green and Grey. Channel' in the catalogue as printed in the second edition of The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. 3
This painting (whether green or blue) was described in Vanity Fair as 'The beautiful breezy "Channel", wherein one can almost feel the wind that is sweeping both clouds and waves along', and in The World, 'as full of the rush of wind and wave as the heart of the most inveterate sailor could desire'. 4
Furthermore, it was photographed at that time, for possible inclusion in the Goupil Album, although in the end it was not published.
Whistler suggested to David Croal Thomson (1855-1930) that it could go on from the Goupil show to the VI. Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung, Königlicher Glaspalast, Munich, 1892, but it was not sent. 5
It is reproduced in a set of photographs of the Boston Memorial exhibition of 1904.
The 1980 catalogue raisonné was wrong in suggesting that Blue and Gold: Channel (Green and Grey. Channel) was exhibited in Mr Whistler's Exhibition, Flemish Gallery, 48 Pall Mall, London, 1874 (cat. no. 9) as 'Blue Waves' or in the 12th Exhibition, Society of French Artists, Deschamps Gallery, London, 1876 (cat. no. 149) as 'Nocturne, in Blue and Gold'. 6
2: Smith, Ann Y., Hidden in Plain Sight: The Whittemore Collection and the French Impressionists, Garnet Hill Publishing Co. and Mattatuck Historical Society, 2009, p. 70.
4: Anon., 'Picture Shows', Vanity Fair, 26 March 1892; Anon., 'The Whistler Exhibition', The World, 23 March 1892; press cuttings in GUL Whistler PC 18, pp. 21, 10.
Last updated: 7th June 2021 by Margaret