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

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Venus dates from 1902. 1

Originally the Pennells said that Whistler was at work on ‘the Venus’ in his studio about May 1902, but later (in 1921) they suggested it was being painted in April 1902. 2

About 1902 Walford Graham Robertson (1867-1948) saw a painting in Whistler’s studio, and compared it to a full-length oil, Arrangement in Brown and Black: Portrait of Miss Rosa Corder [YMSM 203], in size:

'[A] wonderful "rub in" on an even larger scale ... a full length figure of Venus, running with wide-flung arms and flying tresses up a beach of golden sand from a sea of pale turquoise. A small version of the design was among the cherished "Projects", but the large picture, as far as it went, was even finer ... the incarnate joy, born of the sunshine and the dancing foam.' 3
Venus, Freer Gallery of Art
Venus, Freer Gallery of Art

The 'small version' may have been the sketch of Venus [YMSM 082], reproduced above. See also Venus Rising from the Sea [YMSM 093].


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 548).

2: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 2, p. 279.Pennell 1911 A [more], p. 408.

3: W. G. Robertson 1931 A [more], p. 193.

Last updated: 1st November 2019 by Margaret