James Abbott McNeill Whistler
White and Pink (The Palace)
Signed with the artist's butterfly device (rc)
Chalk and pastel on gray paper
7 3/4 x 11 7/8 inches
Louisine and Henry O. Havemeyer, by descent to their daughter
Adaline Havemeyer Frelinghuysen, by descent to her son
The Honorable Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen, by descent to his son
London, The Fine Art Society, Venice Pastels, Jan.1881, no. 15 (as The Palace; white and pink)
Boston, Copley Society, Oil Paintings, Water Colors, Pastels and Drawings - Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Mr. J. McNeill Whistler, Feb. 1904, no. 123 (as The Palace - Pink and White
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection, Mar. 27-Jun. 20, 1993, no 518
Godwin, E. W. "With Whistler's Critics," British Architect, 25. Feb. 1881, pp. 98-99
St. James's Gazette, 9 Feb. 1881
Way, T. R., Memories of James McNeill Whistler, the Artist, London and New York, 1912, illus. facing p. 52
Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art, Part II, Paintings and Pastels, Collections of the Havemeyer Family, privately printed for Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1931, p. 439
Weitzenhoffer, Francis, The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America, New York, 1986, p. 159
Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen et al., The Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection, exhi. cat. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993), cat. no. 518, pp 383-84, illus. p. 383.
Margaret F. MacDonald, James McNeill Whistler: Drawings Pastels and Watercolours: A Catalogue Raisonne, New Haven and London, 1995, pp. 277, 278, M. 758, illus.
Margaret F. MacDonald, Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2001, p. 105, illus.
James Abbott McNeill Whistler first visited Venice in September, 1879, bankrupt but hoping to restore his reputation and his fortune by completing a commission for twelve etchings. He fell in love with the city, especially its backwater canals and decaying palazzi, and remained for fourteen months. While there Whistler completed fifty etchings-far more than the number for which he had been commissioned-as well as one hundred pastels, which he described in a letter to his dealer as being "totally new and of a brilliancy very different from the customary watercolor."
Described by Whistler's friend, E. W. Godwin, as "a bright sunny bit of an old palace," [Glasgow University Library, Whistler Collection, as quoted in Margaret F. MacDonald, James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours: A Catalogue Raisonne, p. 277] White and Pink (The Palace) is alive with color and spontaneity. It depicts the facade of a Venetian palazzo, with gondolas awaiting passengers at the water's edge. On the reverse is the merest wisp of a sketch.
In 1881, the prominent American collector Louisine Havemeyer visited Whistler in his studio and purchased a number of Venetian pastels that she eventually gave to the Detroit collector, Charles Lang Freer. These are now included in the collection of the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It is not known if the present work was acquired on that occasion. It was first exhibited in London in 1881 and was certainly owned by Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Haveyeyer by 1904, when it was lent by H. O. Havemeyer, Esq. for exhibition in Boston, then identified as The Palace - Pink and White.
Margaret F. MacDonald described the frames for his exhibition of fifty-three pastels at the Fine Art Society: "Whistler designed the frames, with slim bands of reeding either side of a flat fillet, in three shades of gold (yellow, pink and green): 'now "old gold" and now gold of almost a silvery complexion, to suit the scheme of color adopted in his pictures.' The Palace; white and pink, for example, suited a warm gold frame, while a yellow gold frame set off the cooler color of Fishing Boats." [Margaret F. MacDonald, Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice, p. 99] It is conceivable that the frame on the present work, which corresponds so closely to the description, may be original to the piece.
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