The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 355
Portrait of George A. Lucas

Portrait of George A. Lucas

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1886
Collection: Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore
Accession Number: 37.319
Medium: oil
Support: wood
Size: 21.7 x 12.5 cm (8 1/2 x 5")
Signature: none
Inscription: none

Date

Portrait of George A. Lucas dates from 1886. 1

Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery
Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery

George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) recorded two sittings for his portrait on the 22 and 23 August 1886, at his country house at Boissise-la-Bertrand, near Paris. 2

Images

Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery
Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery

Portrait of George A. Lucas, photograph. 1980
Portrait of George A. Lucas, photograph. 1980

V. D. Brenner,  George A. Lucas, 1899, bronze & silver, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 01.10
V. D. Brenner, George A. Lucas, 1899, bronze & silver, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 01.10

Subject

Titles

Only one title has been suggested:

Description

Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery
Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery

A small full-length portrait in vertical format. It shows a man with a pale grey/blonde beard wearing a dark grey or black suit, the jacket rather long. His hands are behind his back, his right leg advanced forward. He looks directly at the viewer. The floor and background are pale brown.

Sitter

George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) studied at West Point, like Whistler, but, like Whistler, failed to graduate; he became a railway engineer and family friend. He arrived in Paris in 1857 and lived there for the rest of his life as an agent for American collectors. He was joined in 1861 by the art collector and patron William Thompson Walters (1820-1894) of Baltimore who, like Lucas, had started his career as a civil engineer. Lucas gave this portrait to Walters' son Henry Walters (1841-1931) in 1908.

For years Lucas helped arrange the exhibition of Whistler's work in Paris. Lucas's diaries suggest that his friendship with Whistler was terminated soon after this portrait was painted.

A life-size three-quarter length portrait by Léon Bonnat (1833-1922), painted in 1885, and showing Lucas face-on, with almost photographic precision, is also in the Walters Art Gallery (37.759).

V. D. Brenner,  George A. Lucas, 1899, bronze & silver, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 01.10
V. D. Brenner, George A. Lucas, 1899, bronze & silver, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 01.10

A medal by Victor David Brenner (1871-1924) containing a profile bust of Lucas, was given by the sitter to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1901.

Technique

Technique

Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery
Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery

The minutely painted face, built up in dots and dashes with a tiny pointed brush, has the quality of a miniature, although the rest of the panel was painted with rough, rather untidy brushstrokes. There are numerous pentimenti, with several outlines visible around Lucas's shoulders, arms and legs, and his hat. Despite its small size, the figure has a commanding presence. The technique, particularly in the background, has the freshness of watercolour.

Conservation History

Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery
Portrait of George A. Lucas, Walters Art Gallery

Portrait of George A. Lucas, photograph, 1980
Portrait of George A. Lucas, photograph, 1980

Unknown. Photographs show no particular change in its condition.

Frame

41.5 × 32.5 × 6 cm (16 5/16 × 12 13/16 × 2 3/8").

History

Provenance

Lucas's diaries record that he sat for the portrait in 1886, and that he sent the portrait to Henry Walters on 3 August 1908. 4

Exhibitions

Bibliography

Catalogues Raisonnés

Authored by Whistler

Catalogues 1855-1905

Journals 1855-1905

Monographs

Books on Whistler

Books, General

Catalogues 1906-Present

COLLECTION:

Journals 1906-Present

Websites

Unpublished

Other


Notes:

1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 355).

2: Label on verso in Lucas's hand, and Lucas diaries, quoted by Randall 1979 [more], vol. 2, p. 635; Walters Art Gallery website.

3: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 355).

4: Randall 1979 [more], vol. 2, pp. 635, 962.