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

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Portrait of Charles L. Freer

Portrait of Charles L. Freer dates from 1902. 1 It was commissioned by the sitter and begun shortly after 5 May 1902 when Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) arrived in London. 2 Whistler invited Freer to pose in his brown jacket: 'Look in about three bring brown jacket', he telegraphed on 13 May, and three days later, 'Do look in today about three with jacket Chelsea Studio', that is, at 74 Cheyne Walk. 3 On 13 June 1902, Freer told Frank J. Hecker (1846-1927), 'he is making me look like a pope.' 4 The portrait was 'in progress' on 18 June 1902. 5

On 30 March 1903, Freer, planning another trip to London, asked Whistler, 'Shall you be in Chelsea after June 15th? and if you are in the mood would you be willing to resume work on my portrait.' 6 However, when Freer arrived, Whistler was too ill (he died on 17 July), and the portrait was never completed.


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 550).

2: [1902], Freer Diaries, Freer Gallery Archives.

3: GUW #11593 and #11595.

4: Letter in Freer Gallery Archives.

5: Whistler to Freer, memo., GUW #11698.

6: GUW #13799.

Last updated: 13th December 2020 by Margaret