Although the Freer Gallery of Art is generally known as an Asian art museum, it also houses a significant collection of paintings and etchings by James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), as well as paintings by fourteen other American artists. Whistler, a longtime, close friend of Charles Lang Freer (1856–1919), was an American painter and designer who lived in Europe for most of his productive years. His interest in Japanese art was an important influence on Freer’s collecting activities.
Since its foundation in 1923, the Library of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery has been actively collecting materials on Whistler. In 2000 and 2004, the library was extremely fortunate to receive the Marks Collection, a donation of more than 1,000 books and pamphlets. Thanks to Paul Marks’ important donation, together with our prior holdings, the Freer | Sackler Library now has one of the largest collections of printed materials on Whistler.
Paul Marks is the former president of Montserrat College of Art and the former chancellor of higher education in Massachusetts. His longtime interest in art and artists led to the founding of the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham. Marks has been an active scholar and author on Whistler for more than twenty years; his many publications include James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent: Two Annotated Bibliographies (1986).
The Marks Collection is the fruitful result of Paul Marks’ years of painstaking efforts to assemble a complete collection of printed sources by and on Whistler. The collection covers a wide range of materials, from limited editions to a copy of a single-leaf flyer advertising the sale of Whistler’s former residence in London, as well as books with Whistler’s handwritten annotations, original etchings, and lithographs. Some particularly interesting titles include the 1893 edition of Stéphanie Mallarmé’s Vers et Prose [Poems and Verse], featuring Whistler’s lithographic portrait of the poet; a rare copy of the suppressed Paris edition of Whistler’s book The Gentle Art of Making Enemies; and Whistler’s 1882 pamphlet The Paddon Papers, one of two known existing copies (the other is in the British Library). Marks’ copy includes Whistler’s handwritten comments. Also in the collection is The Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey (1855), with Whistler’s second published engraving.
The Marks Collection is housed in the library and searchable online. Items can be found within the Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ web catalog by searching the subject “Whistler, James McNeill, 1834-1903,” clicking the list containing 436 items, then limiting the results by “Freer Sackler Gallery Library.” Titles in the Marks Collection are listed with the location “Freer Sackler Marks Collection.”
Mallarmé, Stéphane. Vers et Prose: Morceaux Choisis (Paris: Perrin et cie., 1893)
With a frontispiece of Whistler’s lithographic portrait of Mallarmé.
Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, Showing the Progress of the Survey During the Year 1854 (Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, public printer, 1855)
Chart no. 43 engraved by J.M. Whistler, J. Young, and C.A. Knight.
Whistler, James McNeill. Eden versus Whistler: the Baronet & the Butterfly: a Valentine with a Verdict (Paris: Louis-Henry May, 1899)
About Whistler’s quarrel with Sir William Eden. Limited edition of 250 copies, 125 for France, 125 for America.
Library copy is no. 64, stamped with Whistler’s butterfly.
Whistler, James McNeill. Mr. Whistler’s “Ten o’clock”: Being a Talk Delivered by James McNeill Whistler in London, February 1885 (San Francisco: The Black Vine Press, 1940)
Edition of 300 copies. An early Whistler monogram, “JMW,” printed in gilt.
Whistler, James McNeill. Paddon Papers. The Owl and the Cabinet (London, 1882)
Contains correspondence between Whistler and S. Wrenford Paddon and others between 1879–82,
with an autograph letter and corrections written by Whistler.
Also includes: Whistler’s Venice pastels; Whistler v. Ruskin: art & art critics, London, 1878;
and “Notes”-“Harmonies”-“Nocturnes,” 8 pages.
FREER GALLERY OF ART PUBLICATIONS ON WHISTLER
Curry, David Park. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution in association with W.W. Norton, 1984)
Hobbs, Susan. The Whistler Peacock Room. 4th ed. (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1980)
Holden, Donald. Whistler Landscapes and Seascapes. (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications in cooperation with the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1969)
James McNeill Whistler in Context: Essays from the Whistler Centenary Symposium, University of Glasgow, 2003. ed. Lee Glazer, et al. Freer Gallery of Art Occasional Papers, New Series, Vol. 2 (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, 2008)
Merrill, Linda. The Peacock Room: a Cultural Biography. (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998)
Merrill, Linda. A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in Whistler v. Ruskin. (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with the Freer Gallery of Art, 1992)
Myers, Kenneth. Mr. Whistler’s Gallery: Pictures at an 1884 Exhibition. (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution in association with Scala Publishers, 2003)
Stubbs, Burns Archer. James McNeill Whistler: a Biographical Outline Illustrated from the collections of the Freer Gallery of Art. (Washington: Freer Gallery of Art, 1950)
Whistler Peacock Room. [4th ed.] (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, 1972)
With Kindest Regards: the Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler, 1890-1903. ed. Linda Merrill. (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution in association with Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995)
SELECT READINGS ON WHISTLER
Bendix, Deanna Marohn. Diabolical Designs: Paintings, Interiors, and Exhibitions of James McNeill Whistler (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995)
Curry, David Park. James McNeill Whistler: Uneasy Pieces (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2004)
Denker, Eric. Whistler and His Circle in Venice. (London: Merrell in association with the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 2003)
Getscher, Robert H and Paul Marks. James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent: Two Annotated Bibliographies. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1986) [BIBLIOGRAPHY]
Grieve, Alastair. Whistler’s Venice. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2000)
Kennedy, Edward G. The Etched Work of Whistler: Illustrated by Reproductions of the Different States of the Plates (New York: Kennedy Graphics, 1974). (Corrected reprint of the ed. published by the Grolier Club of the City of New York, ca. 1910)
Lochnan, Katherine. The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000)
MacDonald, Margaret F. Whistler’s Pastels. (Glasgow: Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, 1984)
MacDonald, Margaret F. James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours: A Catalogue Raisonne. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995)
MacDonald, Margaret F., Susan Grace Galassi and Aileen Ribero with Patricia de Montfort. Whistler, Women and Fashion. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003)
Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell. The Life of James McNeill Whistler. 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1908)
Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell. The Art of Whistler. 1st Modern Library ed. (New York: Modern Library, ca. 1928)
Robins, Anna Greutzner. A Fragile Modernism : Whistler and His Impressionist Followers. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007)
Stratis, Harriet K, and Martha Tedeschi, eds. The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1998)
Turner Whistler Monet. Katherine Lochnan, ed. (London: Tate Publishing, in association with the Art Gallery of Ontario, 2004)
Young, Andrew McClaren, Margaret MacDonald, and Robin Spencer with Hamish Miles. The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980)
Colby College Museum of Art A major American collection of Whistler’s works, which can be found by searching the museum database.
Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow The Whistler Online Catalogue provides information on 80 oil paintings; several hundred drawings, watercolors, and pastels; and more than 1,500 works represented in the collection. The site also introduces Other Whistler Collections.
James McNeill Whistler online (Artcyclopedia) provides lists of art museums/galleries and image archives, and links to professional tools, articles, research tools, and other related sites on Whistler.
Whistler Archives at the University of Glasgow The University of Glasgow holds the largest single collection on Whistler, which contains 7,000 papers and pieces of correspondence and more than 1,000 books, including 200 from the artists’ library. It comprises a nearly complete collection of Whistler’s own publications and exhibition catalogs, press cuttings, and hundreds of photographs. The book titles can be searched in the university library’s main online catalog.