The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 043
Sea Piece

Sea Piece

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1862
Collection: Whereabouts Unknown
Accession Number: none
Medium: oil
Support: canvas
Size: 81.0 x 130 cm (31 7/8 x 51 1/8")
Signature: unknown
Inscription: unknown
Frame: unknown

Date

A 'sea piece' was being painted by Whistler during his stay at Guéthary, Basses-Pyrénées, October/November 1862, when he asked George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) to order a picture frame:

'I am painting a couple of pictures and wish on my arrival in Paris to have frames ready for them - Will you have the great kindness to order them for me from your frame-maker? - The first is for a sea piece of deep tone … The canvass [sic] is one of the regular French dimension, "toile de soixante".' 1

Lucas ordered the frame at Dutocq's in Paris on 21 October and on 2 December accompanied Whistler to see it. 2 In December 1862 Lucas received a cheque for 280 francs from Whistler in London, to pay the frame-maker, with a request to dispatch the frames to Whistler's address in London. 3

Images

Sea Piece, Whereabouts unknown
Sea Piece, Whereabouts unknown

Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz, Hill-Stead Museum
Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz, Hill-Stead Museum

Subject

Titles

Only one title has been suggested:

Description

Described by the artist as 'A sea piece of deep tone.' 6

Site

Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz, Hill-Stead Museum
Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz, Hill-Stead Museum

Guéthary, Basses-Pyrénées. The only extant sea-piece from this trip is Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz y041.

Technique

Composition

The measurement for a marine painting on a 'toile de soixante' is 81 x 130 cm (figure, 130 x 97 cm, landscape, 130 x 89 cm, marine, 130 x 81 cm). The surviving paintings Whistler painted at Guéthary (Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz y041 at 61.0 x 87.6 cm (24 x 34 1/2") and A White Note y044 at 36.8 x 31.8 cm (14 1/2 x 12 1/2") do not match these dimensions, and nor does anything else.

Technique

Unknown.

Conservation History

Nothing is known about this painting.

Frame

Whistler asked George A. Lucas to order a frame for 'a sea piece of deep tone . . . toile de soixante'. 7

He explained further on 27 October:

'The large picture, "toile de soixante," is, you know for exhibition, and the frame I have to pay for myself - so that I can't well afford to run the risk of an expensive one, and perhaps not sell the painting after all! - The Brittany sea piece last year was a "toile de cinquante" and the frame very large and deep as you remember - it cost 150 fr - and if possible I should like to pay no more this time - I would even sacrifice a centimetre or two in breadth and perhaps the outside painted instead of gilded - The rest I leave to you, and am sure I shall be pleased with your choice.' 8

The 'Brittany sea piece' was The Coast of Brittany y037 which is 87.3 x 115.8 cm (34 3/8 x 45 1/2").

Lucas ordered the frame at Dutocq's in Paris on 21 October and on 2 December accompanied Whistler to see it. 9 In December 1862 Lucas received a cheque for 280 francs from Whistler in London, to pay the frame-maker, with a request to dispatch the frames to Whistler's address in London, at 7A Queens Road West, Chelsea. 10

History

Provenance

Unknown.

Exhibitions

Whistler planned to have the painting framed and exhibited, as he told G. A. Lucas, adding, 'If we go to Madrid ... I'll send the paintings on to Hardy's the colour shop in Paris, Rue Childebert, No. 1 out of the Place St. Germain de Pres - where you can see them framed and he will send them to the Boulevards Exposition.' 11

He also mentioned his intentions to Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), in this case suggesting that Fantin could unpack the paintings to send to Louis Martinet (1814-1895) for exhibition: 'En partant pour l'Espagne j'enverrai mes toiles par la petite vitesse à Hardy, et tu iras les recevoir chez lui, pour ouvrir la caisse et les faire entrer au "Boulevard''.' 12 These letters imply he had intended to show it at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Martinet's Gallery, Paris, 1862 but if so, he was cutting it a bit fine. In fact there is no record of it being exhibited, as far as is known.

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: 18 October [1862], GUW #09187.

2: Diary, Lucas Collection, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; quoted by Randall 1979 [more], pp. 143, 145.

3: [19 December 1862], GUW #09189.

4: 18 October [1862], GUW #09187.

5: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 43).

6: Whistler to G. A. Lucas, 18 October [1862], GUW #09187

7: 18 October [1862], GUW #09187.

8: GUW #09188.

9: Diary, Lucas Collection, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; quoted by Randall 1979 [more], pp. 143, 145.

10: [19 December 1862], GUW #09189. Lucas replied on 23 December that they were being sent that day, GUW #02653.

11: Whistler to G. A. Lucas, [27 October 1862], GUW #09188.

12: [14/21 October 1862], GUW #08028.