Portrait of Charles Lang Freer

Artist: James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
Oil on wood panel
H x W (frame): 86 × 65.5 cm (33 7/8 × 25 13/16 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 09: Freer’s Global Network

Oil painting

portrait, United States

To 1903
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), London, to 1903 [1]

From 1903 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Rosalind Birnie Philip, in London, July 1903 [2]

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


[1] See List of Whistler Paintings transferred to Smithsonian Institution, January 3, 1921, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Miss Birnie Philip was J. M. Whistler's sister-in-law and heiress/executor.

[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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Rosalind Birnie Philip (C.L. Freer source) 1873-1958


This is the only portrait of Charles Lang Freer to enter the collection of the museum that he founded. It was begun in 1902, when Freer was in London and Whistler insisted that his friend and patron sit for him in a brown jacket, specially chosen by the artist. Although he had not been eager to have his likeness taken, Freer ultimately was pleased with the result: “He is making me look like a pope,” he explained to his business partner, Frank Hecker. “There will of course, be little of Freer in it....It will surely be all Whistler!”

Published References
  • Susan Hobbs. Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. vol. 120, no. 5 New York, November 1981. pl. 1.
  • Hilary Taylor. James McNeill Whistler. New York. pl. 23.
  • Denys Sutton. James McNeill Whistler: Paintings, Etchings, Pastels & Watercolours. London, 1966. pl. 126.
  • 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. 354.
  • Burns A. Stubbs. James McNeill Whistler: A Biographical Outline Illustrated from the Collections of the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 1, no. 4 Washington, 1950. pl. 27.
  • Anton Sailer. James McNeill Whistler in der Freer Gallery of Art zu Washington. p. 8.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. pp. 23, 156, pl. 66.
  • Ross Anderson. Abbott Handerson Thayer. Syracuse. p. 27.
  • Julia Meech. The Early Years of Japanese Print Collecting in North America. no. 25. p. 39.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 52, fig. 36.
  • With Kindest Regards: The Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler 1890-1903. Washington. p. 53, pl. 5.
  • Susan Hobbs. A Connoisseur's Vision of America: The American Collection of Charles Lang Freer., August 1977. p. 76.
  • Denys Sutton. The Lure of the Golden Bowl. vol. 118, no. 258 London. p. 120.
  • Tom Prideaux. The World of Whistler, 1834-1903. New York, 1970. p. 171.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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