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

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Portrait of H. C. Pollitt

Portrait of H. C. Pollitt was painted from 1896 to 1897. 1

1896: Whistler planned a series of lithographic portraits, and Ernest George Brown (1851-1915) of The Fine Art Society wrote to him that 'A. C. Pollitt' (sic) of Cambridge wanted his portrait drawn, and Whistler proposed a sitting in February 1896. 2

However, it appears that Whistler started to paint an oil portrait instead. According to the Pennells, 'the painting, which was splendidly begun ... in Fitzroy Street, was afterwards destroyed.' 3

1897: Whistler, suffering from ill health, postponed a sitting in the spring, but reassured the sitter, 'It is all right about the picture - and I shall be back in about ten days or so.' 4

1900: On 23 May 1900 Whistler wrote to Ernest G. Brown, 'I am sorry to find it now, quite impossible for me to complete the portrait of Mr Pollitt, begun years ago' and he returned their cheque for 200 guineas. 5


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 452).

2: Note by M. B. Huish, 18 January 1896, GUW #01335; Brown to Whistler, 30 January 1896, GUW #01337, and Whistler's reply, [30/31 January 1896], GUW #01339.

3: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 2, p. 168.

4: [20 May/June 1897], GUW #09339.

5: Whistler to E. G. Brown and receipt signed by M. B. Huish, GUW #09338 and #01362.

Last updated: 7th April 2019 by Margaret