Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

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The Gold Scab

The Gold Scab dates from 1879, shortly after Whistler was declared 'insolvent'. 1 It was described by the Pennells as the third of three satirical pictures of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892). 2

It was described by Alan Summerly Cole (1846-1934) in his diary for 10 September 1879: 'painting of a demoniacal Leyland playing piano - Ye gold scab with an irruption [sic] of Frilthy lucre ... forcible piece of weird decoration - hideous - displaying bitter animus.' 3

Whistler told Walter Greaves (1846-1930), '[Y]ou must go up into the Studio and see the "Gold Scab." !!' 4 It was left in Whistler's house, the White House, when he departed for Venice in the late autumn of 1879.

Whistler intended that The Gold Scab should be in his studio, with The Loves of the Lobsters [YMSM 209] and Mount Ararat [YMSM 210], when F. R. Leyland and the committee of Whistler's creditors made their official inspection of the White House in 1879.


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 208).

2: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 1, pp. 256.

3: Ms copy, GUW #13132.

4: [10 September 1879], GUW #09125.

Last updated: 23rd April 2021 by Margaret