Venus Rising from the Sea

Maker(s)
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (1834 - 1903)
Historical period(s)
ca. 1869-1870
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
H x W: 59.8 x 49.1 cm (23 9/16 x 19 5/16 in)
Geography
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
F1903.174a-b
On View Location
Freer Gallery 09: The Power to See Beauty
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Oil painting

Keywords
ocean, United States, water
Provenance

To 1903
Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913), London, to 1903 [1]

From 1903 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Thomas Robert Way in July 1903 [2]

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

Notes:

[1] According to Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record. See also, Original Whistler List, Paintings, pg. 7, 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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854 - 1919
Thomas Robert Way (C.L. Freer source) 1861 - 1913

Label

This painting dates to a period in the mid-1860s when Whistler undertook a self-imposed process of artistic reeducation. By borrowing freely from Japanese prints, classical Greek sculpture, and French eighteenth-century rococo painting, he hoped to liberate his art from the chains of narrative realism. The work held special significance for Charles Lang Freer, who acquired it in 1903, shortly after the artist’s death. Later, the collector commissioned a photograph by Alvin Langdon Coburn that showed him comparing this painting with a 12th-century Islamic jar from Raqqa. Freer discerned similarities between the chromatic harmonies of the Venus and the abraded, iridescent surface of the ceramic vessel.

Published References
  • Denys Sutton. James McNeill Whistler: Paintings, Etchings, Pastels & Watercolours. London, 1966. pl. 49.
  • Denys Sutton. Nocturne: The Art of James McNeill Whistler. Philadelphia and New York, 1964. fig. 21.
  • Andrew McLaren Young, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer. The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler. Studies in British Art 2 vols. New Haven, 1980. pl. 66.
  • Grace Dunham Guest. Whistler: The Artist and the Man. Smithsonian Institution Radio Program, vol. 10, no. 3 New York. p. 13.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. pp. 28,48, 111, pl. 13.
  • Charles Henry Caffin. The Art of James McNeill Whistler: Lecture at the Detroit Museum of Art. Detroit, Friday, April 23, 1909. p. 34.
  • Ann C. Gunter. A Collector's Journey: Charles Lang Freer and Egypt. Washington and London, 2002. p. 136, fig. 5.9.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum