Bead Stringers

Maker(s)
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
1880
Medium
Crayon and pastel on brown paper
Dimensions
H x W: 27.6 x 11.7 cm (10 7/8 x 4 5/8 in)
Geography
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1905.124a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Drawing
Type

Drawing

Keywords
United States
Provenance

To 1905
Thomas Way Sr. (1827-1915), London, or Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913), London, to 1905 [1]

From 1905 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Thomas Way Sr. or Thomas Robert Way in 1905 [2]

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

Notes:

[1] See Original Whistler List, Paintings, pg. 29, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Thomas Way Sr. and his son, Thomas Robert Way, were lithographers who worked closely with Whistler on several of his projects. They helped with the printing of his etchings, as well as the printing of Whistler’s promotional materials. Both Thomas Way Sr. and Thomas Robert Way owned many Whistler works. Thomas Way Sr. acquired several of these works at the time of Whistler’s bankruptcy, and he passed some of them on to his son (see The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, 1855-1903, ed. Margaret F. MacDonald, Patricia de Montfort and Nigel Thorp, On-line Edition, People, biographies of Thomas Way and Thomas Robert Way; http://www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk/correspondence).

Charles Lang Freer acquired many Whistler pieces from the Ways. However, museum records do not always specify whether it was the younger or elder Way who was the source of a particular object. Further, archival sources indicate that the junior Way sometimes acted on behalf of his father: whilst negotiating the sale of his own Whistler works to C.L. Freer, he would concurrently negotiate the sale of some of his father’s Whistler works to Freer. In cases where it is unclear whether it was the junior or senior Way who actually owned a piece acquired by C.L. Freer, the provenance record will simply state that the object was purchased from “Thomas Way Sr. or Thomas Robert Way.”

[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)

Thomas Way Sr. 1837-1915
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Thomas Robert Way (C.L. Freer source) 1861-1913

Label

Here, as in most of his Venice pastels, Whistler sketched the outlines of his drawing with dark chalk, then added firm strokes of color to fill in the details of the figures, windows, drying clothes, and sky. Framed by the warm orange-brown of the lightly worked building walls, Whistler used cool whites, grays, and blues to establish the central subject and the regress to the background, before locking the harmonies into place with the dark greens of the shutters, the blacks of the women's shawls, and the deep browns that define the shadowy interior of the distant building.

Published References
  • Whistler portfolio. London. pl. 5.
  • Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Joseph Pennell. The Life of James McNeill Whistler. 2 vols., London and Philadelphia. vol. 1: p. 182.
  • Margaret F. MacDonald. James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels, and Watercolours : A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, 1995. .
  • Octave Maus. Whistler in Belgium. vol. 23, no. 89 New York, July 1904. p. 9.
  • Robin Spencer. James McNeill Whistler. British Artists. p. 60.
  • Margaret F. MacDonald. Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice. Aldershot, Hampshire, England, 2001. p. 61, fig. 70.
  • Thomas Robert Way, G. R. Dennis. The Art of James McNeill Whistler: An Appreciation by T.R. Way and G.R. Dennis. London, 1903. p. 92.
  • Warren Adelson, Elaine Kilmurray, Elizabeth Oustinoff, Richard Ormond, Rosella Mamoli Zorzi, William H. Gerdts. Sargent's Venice. London. p. 176, fig. 192.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 264, pl. 255.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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