The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 276
Blue and Gold: The Schooner

Blue and Gold: The Schooner

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1883/1884
Collection: Private Collection
Accession Number: none
Medium: oil
Support: wood
Size: 114 x 165 mm (4 1/2 x 6 1/2")
Signature: butterfly
Inscription: none

Date

Blue and Gold: The Schooner probably dates from late 1883 or early 1884.

Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection
Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection

It was first exhibited in 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884 (cat. no. 32). However, the butterfly signature was probably added much later.

It is possible that Blue and Gold: The Schooner is an unlocated painting. Green and Gold: The Sloop y368.

Images

Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection
Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection

Note in Blue and Opal: The Sun Cloud, Freer Gallery of Art
Note in Blue and Opal: The Sun Cloud, Freer Gallery of Art

Silvery Light on the stocks at St Ives, photograph, 'Silvery Light Sailing'
Silvery Light on the stocks at St Ives, photograph, 'Silvery Light Sailing'

Subject

Titles

Suggested titles are as follows:

'Blue and Gold: The Schooner' is the preferred title.

Description

Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection
Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection

A schooner is a sailing ship with two or more masts fore and aft rigged throughout; topsail and staysail schooners show slight variations in rigging.

The ship is seen at left, sitting high up, beyond a sloping grassy field. To right of it are the roofs of several houses and huts, possibly smoke-houses. The sky is cloudy, with patches of pale blue. In the right foreground stand three women.

Despite the disparity in the title, it is possible that Blue and Gold: The Schooner y276 is Green and Gold: The Sloop y368 (and indeed the painting was exhibited as 'The Sloop' in 1905). However, a sloop is a small boat with a single mast, and a single head sail or jib, so Blue and Gold: The Schooner really does show a schooner!

Site

Note in Blue and Opal: The Sun Cloud, Freer Gallery of Art
Note in Blue and Opal: The Sun Cloud, Freer Gallery of Art

Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection
Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection

Probably St Ives, Cornwall. Note in Blue and Opal: The Sun Cloud y271 shows a similar row of small houses above a field, but without the ship.

Silvery Light, Photograph, 'Silvery Light Sailing'
Silvery Light, Photograph, 'Silvery Light Sailing'

Ships built on the shore at St Ives included the two-masted fishing boat Silvery Light built by William Robert Williams and launched on 10 July 1884. 5

Technique

Technique

Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection
Blue and Gold: The Schooner, Private Collection

Painted freely, with expressive brushwork and thin paint. A comparatively broad rounded brush was used for the sky and foreground, a smaller one for the houses and a very fine brush for the detail of the ship. It was probably signed with the butterfly at a later date.

Conservation History

Unknown. It is slightly abraded at the edges from the mount or frame (when working on site, Whistler often used a small box with slots to hold his wet panels). It appears to have a slightly yellowed varnish.

History

Provenance

The early provenance is unknown. However, despite the disparity in the title, it is possible that Blue and Gold: The Schooner y276 is Green and Gold: The Sloop y368, an unlocated painting that was sold by Whistler to Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) in 1897.

Miss Jennings was well travelled but it is not known if she visited Europe during Whistler's lifetime, though she did apply for a passport on 2 April 1894, when she was living at 48 Park Avenue, New York. The butterfly signature dates from the late 1890s or later and suggests that the picture was exhibited and/or sold at a late date.

Exhibitions

In 1884, a review by Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) praised this among several oils noted for their 'Beauty of handling and high finish.' 6

Miss Jennings lent the painting to the 1904 Boston exhibition. The size of the painting – 4 ½ x 6 ½ inches – the support, which is given as canvas but which was actually wood, its size when framed – 12 ¾ x 15 ¼ (32.4 x 38.7) – and insurance valuation of $1500, are given in a memorandum that is enclosed in a copy of the Boston Memorial Exhibition catalogue, which was originally owned by Frank Gair Macomber (1849-1941) and is now in the Boston Public Library. The memorandum also notes that the painting should be returned to Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), New York art dealer.

Bibliography

Catalogues Raisonnés

Authored by Whistler

Catalogues 1855-1905

Journals 1855-1905

Monographs

Books on Whistler

Books, General

Catalogues 1906-Present

EXHIBITION:

SALE:

Journals 1906-Present

Websites

Unpublished

Other


Notes:

1: 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884 (cat. no. 32); also Annual Exhibition of Sketches, Pictures & Photography: A Loan Collection of Pictures by Mr Whistler ..., Dublin Sketching Club, Dublin, 1884 (cat. no. 252).

2: Oil Paintings, Water Colors, Pastels and Drawings: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Mr. J. McNeill Whistler, Copley Society, Boston, 1904 (cat. no. 77).

3: 100th Anniversary Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1905 (cat. no. 423).

4: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 276).

5: Website at ' https://www.silverylight.org/history'.

6: ‘An Enthusiast’, [Sickert, W. R.], 'Mr Whistler and His Art', The Artist and Journal of Home Culture, vol. 5, 1 June 1884, pp. 199-201.