Arrangement in White and Black

Artist: James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
ca. 1876
Oil on canvas
H x W (painting): 191.4 x 90.9 cm (75 3/8 x 35 13/16 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Oil painting

portrait, United States, woman

To 1904
Theodore Duret (1838-1927), Paris, to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Theodore Duret in June 1904 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

[1] See Original Whistler List, Paintings, pg. 14, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Theodore Duret (C.L. Freer source) 1838-1927
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Whistler used musical titles for his paintings to direct attention away from the subject and toward the more transcendent elements of line and color. Yet, the presence of the sitter here is undeniable. The rhythm and spring of movement appear in every line of her body and throughout the folds of her gown. Painting his figure thinly, Whistler worked quickly with little or no alteration, a method resulting in a remarkably naturalistic work. It is the vibrant youth and beauty of Maud Franklin--the artist's longtime model and mistress--that endow the painting with its assertive and nonchalant charm.
Maud Franklin (1857-circa 1941) met Whistler when she was in her teens and Whistler in his forties. She lived with Whistler, bore him two daughters, and was his supportive partner during the most difficult years of his career. Delighting in Maud's grace, Whistler drew her in more than sixty works ranging from oils to lithographs. He showed her sleeping, sewing, reading, sick in bed, and in all her various moods and activities.

This painting, however, depicts her at her most vibrant, in a formfitting dress that reveals her pretty figure and light step. This apparent self-confidence would stand Maud in good stead when Whistler cast her off in 1888 in order to marry the widow of his friend, architect E.W. Godwin. She, however, went on to marry a rich New Yorker and thereafter lived a prosperous life in Paris and London.

Published References
  • Susan Hobbs. Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. vol. 120, no. 5 New York, November 1981. pl. 11.
  • Freer Gallery of Art. Gallery Book IX: Exhibition of May 2nd, 1923. Washington. .
  • Denys Sutton. James McNeill Whistler: Paintings, Etchings, Pastels & Watercolours. London, 1966. pl. 62.
  • Denys Sutton. Nocturne: The Art of James McNeill Whistler. Philadelphia and New York, 1964. fig. 33.
  • , (Introduction) Elizabeth Robins Pennell, (Introduction) Joseph Pennell. James McNeill Whistler. Distinguished American artists New York, 1924. pl. 48.
  • Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Joseph Pennell. The Life of James McNeill Whistler. 2 vols., London and Philadelphia. vol. 2: p. 100.
  • Andrew McLaren Young, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer. The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler. Studies in British Art 2 vols. New Haven, 1980. vol. 2: pl. 154.
  • Burns A. Stubbs. Paintings, Pastels, Drawings, Prints, and Copper Plates by and Attributed to American and European Artists, Together with a List of Original Whistleriana, in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 1, no. 2, 2nd ed. Washington, 1967. pl. 20.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. pp. 10, 17, 43, 116, 158, pl. 19.
  • Grace Dunham Guest. Whistler: The Artist and the Man. Smithsonian Institution Radio Program, vol. 10, no. 3 New York. p. 13.
  • Kimberly Orcutt. Painterly Controversy: William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri. Exh. cat. Greenwich, Conn. p. 19, fig. 4.
  • Harry Graf Kessler. Unknown. vol. 2, no. 1 Berlin, October 1903. p. 19.
  • Robin Spencer. James McNeill Whistler. British Artists. p. 47.
  • James Warren Lane, Aimee Crane. Whistler. New York. p. 49.
  • Theodore Duret. Whistler. London and Phildadelphia. p. 58.
  • Barbara Dayer Gallati, Eric Homberger, Sylvia Yount, Dorothee Hansen, Ortrud Westheider, Susanne Scharf, Bucerius Kunst Forum. High Society: American Portraits of the Gilded Age: Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, June 7-August 31, 2008. Exh. cat. Munich. p. 63.
  • Hesketh Pearson. The Man Whistler. New York. pp. 87, 116-117.
  • Martha Banta. Imaging American Women: Ideas and Ideals in Cultural History. New York, 1987. pp. 98-99, fig. 2.3.
  • Susan Hobbs. A Connoisseur's Vision of America: The American Collection of Charles Lang Freer., August 1977. p. 99.
  • Tom Prideaux. The World of Whistler, 1834-1903. New York, 1970. p. 100.
  • Petra Bosetti. Ein dandy schwarmt fur Exotik. vol. 8. p. 109.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler: Uneasy Pieces. Richmond and New York, 2004. p. 113, fig. 3.55.
  • Theodore Duret. Histoire de James McNeill Whistler et de Son Oeuvre. Paris. p. 114.
  • Linda Merrill. The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography. Washington and New Haven. p. 134, fig. 3.20.
  • Susan Grace Galassi, Margaret F. MacDonald, Aileen Ribeiro. Whistler, Women, and Fashion. Exh. cat. New Haven and New York, April 22 - July 13, 2003. p. 137, fig. 126.
  • Bernhard Sickert. Whistler. London and New York. cat. 64, p. 159.
  • Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Joseph Pennell. The Whistler Journal. Philadelphia, 1921. p. 163.
  • David Park Curry. Charles Lang Freer and American Art. vol. 118, no. 258, special issue., August 1983. pp. 168-79, fig. 3.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 187, fig. 125.
  • Elisabeth Luther Cary. The Works of James McNeill Whistler: A Study., 1st ed. New York, 1907. cat. 496, p. 228.
  • Helen W. Henderson. The Art Treasures of Washington: An Account of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and of the National Gallery and Museum, with Descriptions and Criticisms of their Contents. The Art Galleries of America series Boston. p. 246.
  • Sadakichi Hartmann. The Whistler Book: A Monograph of the Life and Position in Art of James McNeill Whister, Together with a Careful Study of His More Important Works. Boston. p. 263.
  • Philippe Daverio. il Secolo Lungo della Modernita: il Museo Immaginato. Milan. p. 290.
  • Harry Graf Kessler. Whistler. vol. 3 Berlin, August 1905. p. 450.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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