Le Rhin

Maker(s)
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
1858
Medium
Pencil on white paper
Dimensions
H x W: 15.4 x 17 cm (6 1/16 x 6 11/16 in)
Geography
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1898.200
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Drawing
Type

Drawing

Keywords
boat, man, river, United States
Provenance

Seymour Haden (1818-1910), London [1]

To 1898
H. Wunderlich & Co., New York to 1898 [2]

From 1898 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from H. Wunderlich & Co., through Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), in November 1898 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]

Notes:

[1] See Original Whistler List, Haden Collection Drawings, pg. 2, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See Voucher No. 20, November 1898, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] See note 2.

[4] 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)

Francis Seymour Haden 1818-1910
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
H. Wunderlich & Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1874-1912

Label

Whistler's descriptive powers are exhibited in this drawing of passengers on Rhine steamer. The wealth of detail seems to prefigure another passage from Flaubert's novel, The Sentimental Education.

Apart from a few bourgeois traveling first class,
the passengers were laborers, or shopkeepers...In
those days it was the custom to dress shabbily for a
journey, so nearly all of them wore old skullcaps or
faded hats, cheap black suits rubbed threadbare against
desks, or frock-coats with their buttons splitting
open from heavy use at the store...Some chatted
together, standing or squatting on their luggage,
others slept in corners.
Whistler's precise notations extend to the relaxed pair of feet portruding into the picture space at the bottom right, and a tantalizing book strapped to a knapsack: La Poire aux Vanitee, perhaps a sardonic reference to the recently deposed Louis-Philippe. However, by about the time Flaubert's novel was published in 1869, Whistler was already moving beyond descriptive literalism in his painting and reaching toward abstraction that he believed was the territory of the painter and the musician, if not the writer.

Published References
  • Margaret F. MacDonald. James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels, and Watercolours : A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, 1995. .
  • Elisabeth Luther Cary. The Works of James McNeill Whistler: A Study., First edition. New York, 1907. cat. 254, p. 196.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 219, pl. 167.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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