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

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Self-Portrait may have been started in 1893 or 1894 but the technique is not totally typical of that period, and may indicate a later date.

1894: Arthur Jerome Eddy (1859-1920) saw a self-portrait in Whistler's studio, but mentioned no details. 1

1893/1894: Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) remembered seeing Whistler at work on several self-portraits, possibly including this: he does not specify a date but it could have been when Whistler was painting Green and Violet: Portrait of Mrs Walter Sickert [YMSM 338]. 2 The Pennells also suggest a date of 1893/1894 for a self-portrait that was reworked in 1896 or later. 3

1895: Beatrice Philip (Mrs E. W. Godwin, Mrs J. McN. Whistler) (1857-1896) wrote to the art dealer Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) that Whistler was painting a portrait, possibly this one or Self-Portrait [YMSM 124] or Brown and Gold [YMSM 440]. She wrote: 'He thinks he will be through with his portrait by the end of next week.' 4

1896: It had been suggested that this was the self-portrait described by the Pennells as 'in the white jacket, which was changed into a black coat after Mrs. Whistler's death' in 1896, but there is absolutely no trace of this white jacket under the thinly painted self-portrait in its present state. 5


1: Eddy to Whistler, 5 December [1894], GUW #01019.

2: Sickert 1910 [more].

3: Pennell 1911 A [more], p. 322.

4: [May/June 1895], GUW #09725.

5: Pennell 1911, op. cit., p. 322. Report by Teri Hensick, forwarded by Miriam Stewart, curator, Harvard Art Museums, to M. F. MacDonald, 5 January 2017, GUL WPP file.

Last updated: 22nd October 2020 by Margaret