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

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The Pier: A Grey Note


  • By 1934: owned by Ross Theodore Whistler (1894-1963), Cambridge, MA, the son of Ross Winans Whistler (1858-1927);
  • 1963: passed to his first wife, Mary Vinton Murray Whistler (Mrs R. T. Whistler) (1901-1995);
  • 1979: sold at auction, Robert C. Eldred Co. Inc., East Dennis, MA, 2 August 1979 (lot 318), and bought by Gilbert Waters (n/a) for the Gilbert Waters family collection, Sarasota, Florida;
  • 1988: Museum purchase, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Alletta Morris McBean Bequest Fund and gifts in her honor.

It was said to have been owned by Ross Winans (1795-1877), whose sister Julia married Whistler's half-brother George William Whistler (1822-1869), but this is not possible since it was not painted until 1884. It could however have been owned by Ross Winans Whistler, the son of G. W. Whistler and Julia de Kay Winans, and inherited by his son, Ross Theodore Whistler. The latter lent it to an exhibition in Boston in 1934. It was inherited by his first wife Mary Vinton Murray (Mrs Mary Murray Whistler) probably before or at the time of his second marriage in 1935, and was sold at auction in 1979.


  • 1884: 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884 (cat. no. 1) as 'The Pier; a grey note'.
  • 1886: Winter Exhibition, Society of British Artists, London, 1886 (cat. no. 235) as 'A Grey Note'.

The Glasgow Herald, on 10 June 1884, commended it as 'excellent and delicate'.

In 1887 'A Grey Note' was described in the Globe as 'a sea-coast [study] of miniature size'. 1


1: Globe, 29 November 1887 (press cutting in GUL Whistler PC 9, p. 17).

Last updated: 11th November 2020 by Margaret