View right to left
: Caprice in Purple and Gold: The Golden Screen

object: 2873

Caprice in Purple and Gold: The Golden Screen

Oil painting
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (United States, 1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
Oil on wood panel
50.1 x 68.5 cm
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
In the mid-1860s Whistler undertook a series of works in which recognizably English models in exotic costumes are depicted as Japanese courtesans surrounded by objects from the artist’s personal collection of Asian art. Here, he presents the Irish model Joanna Hiffernan in the guise of a Japanese courtesan, contemplating a print from Utagawa Hiroshige’s Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces, an iconic series of meisho-e, or images of notable places. When Charles Lang Freer first saw this painting in 1902, he had acquired an impressive collection of Japanese prints and paintings as well as hundreds of works by Whistler. Freer declared that Caprice was “one of the most perfect things in composition and colouring in the whole range of Mr. Whistler’s art.”

To 1904
Lord Battersea (Cyril Flower; Baron Battersea) (1843-1907), London, to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Lord Battersea, through William Marchant and Co., London, in 1904 [2]

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


[1] See Original Whistler List, Paintings, pg. 14, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Purchased in June 1904. See also, Curatorial Remark 3, S. Hobbs, 1977, in the object record).

[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.

Former owner
C.L. Freer source: Lord Battersea (1843 - 1907)
On View Location
Freer: South Corridor
screen, ukiyo-e, United States
Collection(s) Area
American Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Art Project, Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

Get here quick! The Freer Gallery closes for renovation on January 4, 2016, so we can better present our art and serve our visitors. The Sackler Gallery remains open and as dynamic as ever. Check out to learn more and plan your trip.