The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 028
Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (1)

Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (1)

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1859
Collection: Whereabouts unknown
Accession Number: none
Medium: oil
Support: unknown
Size: unknown
Signature: unknown
Inscription: unknown
Frame: unknown

Date

Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (1) dates from 1859. 1

In a letter from Paris in 1859 to his half-sister, Deborah Delano Haden (1825-1908), Whistler wrote, 'I am trying to make a portrait of Father for George from a lithograph he sent me - this is very difficult, but with the aid of a glass and a friend who has promised to sit for me, and who is like Father in color, I hope to succeed.' 2 'George' was Whistler's elder half-brother, George William Whistler (1822-1869).

Images

Portrait of G. W. Whistler, Whereabouts unknown
Portrait of G. W. Whistler, Whereabouts unknown

C. G. Crehen, Portrait of G. W. Whistler, photograph of lithograph, GUL Whistler PH1/60
C. G. Crehen, Portrait of G. W. Whistler, photograph of lithograph, GUL Whistler PH1/60

G. W. Whistler, miniature, photograph, GUL Whistler PH1/62
G. W. Whistler, miniature, photograph, GUL Whistler PH1/62

H. Inman, George Washington Whistler, Cincinnati Art Museum
H. Inman, George Washington Whistler, Cincinnati Art Museum

Adolf Jebens, Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler, The Hunterian, GLAHA 51011
Adolf Jebens, Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler, The Hunterian, GLAHA 51011

Chester Harding, Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler, The Hunterian
Chester Harding, Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler, The Hunterian

Anon., Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (2), Freer Gallery of Art
Anon., Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (2), Freer Gallery of Art

Subject

Titles

Only one title has been suggested:

It was numbered (1) to distinguish it from another portrait of Whistler's father, Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (2) y029.

Description

C. G. Crehen, Portrait of G. W. Whistler, photograph of lithograph, GUL Whistler PH1/60
C. G. Crehen, Portrait of G. W. Whistler, photograph of lithograph, GUL Whistler PH1/60

It is likely that it was a copy of the lithographic portrait by Charles G. Crehen (1829-after 1891), published by Thomas Larcombe (fl. 1859). The photograph of this lithograph, reproduced above, was made by Henna & Kent in Brighton, where George William Whistler (1822-1869) lived towards the end of his life, and it could well have been a photograph of the actual lithograph sent to the young James Whistler.

Sitter

George Washington Whistler (1800-1849).

G. W. Whistler, miniature, photograph, GUL Whistler PH1/62
G. W. Whistler, miniature, photograph, GUL Whistler PH1/62

A sequence of portraits of Major Whistler by various artists start with miniatures done when he was a young man, about 1821. 4

H. Inman, George Washington Whistler, Cincinnati Art Museum
H. Inman, George Washington Whistler, Cincinnati Art Museum

A portrait by Henry Inman (1801-1846), is said to have been painted about 1843. It closely resembles another portrait, by Charles G. Crehen (1829-after 1891) (reproduced below), except that the sitter wears a dark jacket.

C. G. Crehen, Portrait of G. W. Whistler, photograph of lithograph, GUL Whistler PH1/60
C. G. Crehen, Portrait of G. W. Whistler, photograph of lithograph, GUL Whistler PH1/60

The most likely source for Whistler's copy is a lithograph of G. W. Whistler signed by Charles G. Crehen (1829-after 1891), which was published by Thomas Larcombe in America about 1848. It is reproduced in Vose's biography of the artist's father, published in Boston, 1887. 5 It is an oval, and shows the head and shoulders, turned slightly to the right, of a clean-shaven man with long curly hair. He wears a light jacket with wide lapels, a high collar, and a neatly tied cravat.

Adolf Jebens, Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler, The Hunterian
Adolf Jebens, Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler, The Hunterian

An almost identical portrait, signed by Adolf Jebens (1819-1888), 1848, is in the Hunterian, University of Glasgow. 6

Chester Harding, Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler, The Hunterian
Chester Harding, Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler, The Hunterian

Anon., Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (2), Freer Gallery of Art
Anon., Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (2), Freer Gallery of Art

In a portrait by Chester Harding (1792-1866), in the Hunterian (reproduced above), he is seen in the same pose as in a portrait formerly attributed to Whistler (Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (2) y029 (also reproduced above) but the face is more subtly modelled, his sideburns shorter, and stock larger.

No lithographs are known of any of these portraits, apart from that by Crehen, which is therefore more likely to have been the source for the portrait mentioned by Whistler to Deborah Haden.

Technique

Technique

Unknown.

Conservation History

The painting may not have been completed and has, in any case, disappeared.

Frame

Unknown.

History

Provenance

Unknown.

Exhibitions

It was not exhibited in Whistler's lifetime.

Bibliography

Catalogues Raisonnés

Authored by Whistler

Catalogues 1855-1905

Journals 1855-1905

Monographs

Books on Whistler

Books, General

Catalogues 1906-Present

Journals 1906-Present

Websites

Unpublished

Other


Notes:

1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 28).

2: [12/30 January 1859], GUW #01913.

3: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 28).

4: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow; Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 1, p. 73, miniature repr. f.p. 12.

5: Vose, George L., A Sketch of The Life and Works of George W. Whistler, Civil Engineer, Boston and New York, 1887, p. 5, lithograph by Crehen repr. frontispiece.

6: Oval, 31.8 x 23.5, GLAHA 51011; it is either the original for, or a copy after the lithograph by C. G. Crehen, published by Larcombe, an impression of which is in the Revillon Bequest, University of Glasgow.