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image: The Thames in Ice

The Thames in Ice

Oil painting
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (United States, 1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
Oil on canvas
H x W: 74.6 x 55.3 cm (29 3/8 x 21 3/4 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
After Whistler moved from Paris to London in 1859, he found the river Thames to be a constant source of inspiration. Originally titled The Twenty-fifth of December 1860. On the Thames, this picture records a particular moment during a bitterly cold winter, when the river was frozen for more than fourteen weeks. Although he likely retouched the work later in the decade, Whistler claimed to have completed it in three days at an inn overlooking the river. The bold brushstrokes, somber palette, and thinly painted surface reinforce the realistic immediacy of the image. This work seems worlds away from the visual poetry of Whistlers later Nocturnes, but there is a hint of his subsequent aestheticism in the misty gray atmosphere that envelops the factories on the far bank of the river.

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

To 1901
John James Cowan (1846-1936), Edinburgh, Scotland, to 1901 [2]

From 1901 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from John James Cowan in November 1901 [3]

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


[1] See Curatorial Remark 2, C.L. Freer, in the object record.

[2] See Original Whistler List, Paintings, pg. 37, 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.

Former owner
Seymour Haden (1818 - 1910)
John James Cowan (C.L. Freer source) (1846 - 1936)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
On View Location
Currently not on view
boat, river, snow, United States, winter
Collection(s) Area
American Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

The Freer|Sackler is currently closed for renovations, updates, and gallery reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Please join us for our weekend-long reopening celebration on October 14 and 15, 2017.