The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 068
Symphonie en argent et émeraude

Symphonie en argent et émeraude

Artist: Formerly attributed to James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1865/1868
Collection: Private Collection
Accession Number: none
Medium: oil
Support: canvas
Size: 50.0 x 73.0 cm (19 3/4 x 28 3/4")
Signature: none
Inscription: none
Frame: unknown

Date

Symphonie en argent et émeraude is inscribed on the stretcher in an unknown hand, 'Whistler 1865'. This is not in Whistler's writing, and neither the date nor authorship are certain. 1

Symphonie en argent et émeraude, Private Collection
Symphonie en argent et émeraude, Private Collection

The canvas bears on the back the stencilled lettering: ‘HARDY ALAN/ 36 Rue du Cherche-Midi/ PARIS'. The Paris Bottin for 1865-1867 shows that Hardy-Alan ('Couleurs') was then at 1 rue Childebert. He did not move to 36 rue du Cherche-Midi until 1868. It would therefore seem unlikely that this seascape could have been painted in 1865, when Whistler was at Trouville, as suggested by the date on the stretcher.

A note on the stretcher states that Whistler gave the painting to J. M. Lalouette (d. 1871) so if this was true, Lalouette's death gives the last possible date, 1871. However, given the doubt of the painting's authorship, this is not particularly relevant.

Images

Symphonie en argent et émeraude, Private Collection
Symphonie en argent et émeraude, Private Collection

Subject

Titles

Only one title has been suggested:

Description

Symphonie en argent et émeraude, Private Collection
Symphonie en argent et émeraude, Private Collection

A seascape, in horizontal format, showing a stormy sea with waves breaking on the beach, under a cloudy sky.

Site

Since there are no distinguishing features in the seascape, it is impossible to identify the site.

Comments

Andrew McLaren Young (1913-1975) was unsure of the authenticity of this painting, on the grounds of the stylistic difference between it and other works painted by Whistler in Trouville (see Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville y064 Sea and Rain y065, Blue and Silver: Trouville y066, Crepuscule in Opal: Trouville y067, Green and Grey. Channel y069). The compilers of this catalogue share his doubts.

An alternative attribution might be to the well-known marine painter, Henry Moore (1831-1895).

Technique

Technique

Symphonie en argent et émeraude, Private Collection
Symphonie en argent et émeraude, Private Collection

The canvas corresponds to the French 'toile de vingt' and was almost certainly acquired in France. It is possible that the stretcher, dated 1865, could have once belonged to another picture painted in that year.

The canvas is close in size to Whistler's Sea and Rain y065 and Blue and Silver: Trouville y066, both of which were painted at Trouville in 1865, and these canvases were probably acquired by Whistler in France, as indeed were many paintings by other artists.

The breaking waves are extremely thickly impasted, more so than in any other work by Whistler, and have been worked with a palette knife.

Conservation History

Unknown.

Frame

Unknown.

History

Provenance

A handwritten note attached to the stretcher states:

'Je confirme que ma mère avait recu cette marine de son oncle, M. Lalouette, restaurateur 5, rue de l'Odéon à Paris VIe, qui la tenait de son ami et client, le peintre Whistler. J. Arubery [?]'

According to R. Gerter, it was bought by his grandfather, a jeweller, from the Galerie Drouet, Paris, about 1890, and passed by family succession to R. Gerter who sold it to the present owner.

J. M. Lalouette ran a restaurant at 5 rue de l'Odéon, of which Whistler was a patron during his first stay in Paris, 1855-1859. In 1862 Whistler still owed Lalouette money, and the painting could, in theory, as is suggested by the note on the stretcher, have been accepted in lieu of further payment. 3 However, it has been impossible to confirm the above provenance.

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. 68).

2: YMSM 1980 [more](cat. no. 68).

3: Lalouette to Whistler, 6 May 1862, GUW #02476.