The Sea, Pourville, No. 1 probably dates from the late summer or autumn of 1899. 1
In the summer of 1899 Whistler took a house, the Pavillon Madeleine, at Pourville-sur-mer, near Dieppe, for his sister-in-law, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), and her mother. Whistler stayed there on and off (he made quick trips to London and Amsterdam in mid-August and Paris early in October) from late July until the end of October.
On 15 August Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) of Wunderlich & Co., New York, wrote that he liked Whistler's sketches of Dieppe: 'I admired those three Dieppe sketches (you know those I mean just commenced) and when you finish them, I should like to have one or all. They are very charming.' 2
Despite poor health, Whistler wanted to get away somewhere to paint. On 29 August he wrote from the Pavillon Madeleine to Inez Eleanor Addams (1874-1958), who was visiting Ireland:
'Tell me something more of your Coast - I should like to take away with me a sea piece perhaps - and here there is nothing but the wonderful air for the health I have been too impatient to wait for.' 3
Whistler told the artist Albert Ludovici, Jr (1852-1932):
'September & October are clearly the months for the sea -
I am just beginning to understanding the principle of these things - You know how I always reduce things to principles!
Only I can't stay much longer -
I could not help thinking of your two French painters who thought they had something new in Renoir! - and who looked with contempt upon le "vieux tableau"! -
"Plein air" indeed! - I should like to show you one or two little panels!' 4
The Pennells recorded that 'many small oils and water-colours were done before the bad weather drove him [Whistler] away' from Pourville. 5
Last updated: 5th December 2020 by Margaret