In 1873 Whistler wrote to his patron Louis Huth (1821-1905), 'I should not exactly like to fix the price of the other two pictures until they are a little way on; However I think the Venus ought to be somewhere about 6 or 7 hundred.' 1 Whistler wrote about the same time to William Grapel (1822-1887), 'the Venus is really scarcely to be judged of in its present wild rough hewn state.' 2
It is possibly the nude referred to by the Pennells as being acquired by the London printer Thomas Way at the time of Whistler's bankruptcy in 1879. 3 It was sold by Way's son, T. R. Way, to C. L. Freer on 28 July 1903 for £400.0.0. This was a few days after Whistler's death. Freer bought an enormous number of works from T. R. Way at this time.
A photograph by Alvin Landon Coburn (1882-1966) shows Freer comparing Venus Rising from the Sea [YMSM 093] to an Islamic glazed ceramic pot (F1905.61) in 1909.
Edwin Edwards (1823-1879) wrote to Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) 'j'irais voir Whistler aussitot que je peux sortir - il a presque fini quelque chose (une Venus je crois) pour l'Académie.' 4 However, even if this did refer to the Venus under discussion, it was not exhibited at that time at the Royal Academy, nor is there any record of a later exhibition.
By the terms of C. L. Freer's bequest to the Freer Gallery of Art, the painting cannot be lent.
Last updated: 24th October 2020 by Margaret