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

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Blue Wave: Near the Casquet Rocks

Blue Wave: Near the Casquet Rocks dates from 1881. 1

Whistler visited Guernsey and Jersey in October 1881. On 9 October he tried to persuade his friend, the artist Matthew Robinson Elden (1839-1885) to join him, saying 'I propose to be away for 10 days or a couple of weeks.' 2 Later he described the hazards of the trip to his sister-in-law, Helen ('Nellie') Euphrosyne Whistler (1849-1917):

'I only got here on Saturday morning - after a trip - if you can call it [a] trip - of the wildest - thirteen and a half hours of pitch and toss until it was a mere chance how I turned up - heads or tails! - At Guernsey then I chucked up the game and went ashore - There I stayed and struggled with wind and weather - and paintboxes with that perseverance that is the peculiarity of this family, as you will know - But what will you - quite hopeless - After being whisked about on the tops of very grand rocks and nearly blown into the sea canvas and all and dragging myself each evening back to the inn a dishevelled wreck of fright and disappointment I ceased a career only fit for an accrobat [sic] and came over to Jersey remembering that you had said it was comparatively flatter! ... not a single picture have I managed yet - though I have tried ever so hard ... However I shall still try - for a few days longer ...

I have had the folly to bring with me lots of boxes and traps enough to produce a Gallery of chef d'oeuvres!' 3

Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913) remembered a painting 'of a vast deep blue wave, painted near the Casquet rocks', as one of several 'which I have never seen since.' 4


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 231).

2: 9 October [1881], GUW #12818.

3: [17 October 1881], GUW #06700.

4: Way 1912 [more], p. 59.

Last updated: 3rd January 2021 by Margaret