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

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Shop Front

Shop Front dates from 1885. 1

At some time in the summer of 1885 while Whistler was painting William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), they took a cab from what Chase called 'Whistler's studio in King Street' to a bank in Queen Street to meet a man who wanted to buy some Whistler etchings, but suddenly Whistler ordered the cabby to return 'back to a corner we had just passed':

'Here a green grocer's shop, with its orderly and colorful array of fruits and vegetables, had caught Whistler's eyes as we whirled by. He surveyed it now critically from two different positions ... "Isn't it beautiful!" exclaimed Whistler. He pointed his long cane at one corner. "I believe I'll have that crate of oranges moved over there ̶ against that background of green. Yes, that's better," he added contentedly ... The following morning he posted his easel at the corner and painted the shop.' 2
Terrey's Fruit Shop, Chelsea, The Hunterian
Terrey's Fruit Shop, Chelsea, The Hunterian

Chase's account of events in the summer of 1885 is rather muddled: Whistler's studio was in fact in the Fulham Road.

Although Chase mentions an easel, which suggests the work was an oil painting, the medium might have been a watercolour, such as Terrey's Fruit Shop, Chelsea [M.1002].


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 323).

2: Roof, Katharine Metcalf, The life and art of William Merritt Chase, New York, 1917, pp. 120-22.

Last updated: 12th October 2019 by Margaret