Arrangement in Grey: Portrait of the Painter probably dates from 1872. 1 It is dated from the technique and signature, and from the fact that it was first exhibited in the Fifth Exhibition of the Society of French Artists [Winter Exhibition], Deschamps Gallery, London, 1872 (cat. no. 30).
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) understood that this self-portrait was painted by Whistler to see if he 'had kept his knack' in Valparaiso in 1866. 2 Initially this might seem possible, especially since on 5 February 1867 William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919) saw, at Whistler's house in Lindsey Row, a 'clever vivacious portrait of himself begun' (see Self-Portrait [YMSM 078]). 3 However, in later reminiscences Whistler never mentioned having painted a self-portrait in Valparaiso, and as the major work on this self-portrait almost certainly dates from shortly before its first exhibition in 1872, it is unlikely to have been this self-portrait, in its present form, which Rossetti saw in 1867.
Although photographs document Whistler's appearance during this period, none tally exactly with his appearance in the painting. This may be partly due to his hairdresser, but on the whole, a date mid-way between the photographs of 1864 and 1879 seems reasonable.
Last updated: 31st December 2020 by Margaret