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with frame: Arrangement in White and Black

Arrangement in White and Black

Oil painting
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (United States, 1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
ca. 1876
Oil on canvas
191.4 x 90.9 cm
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
Whistler used musical titles for his paintings to direct attention away from the subject and toward the more transcendent elements of line and color. Yet, the presence of the sitter here is undeniable. The rhythm and spring of movement appear in every line of her body and throughout the folds of her gown. Painting his figure thinly, Whistler worked quickly with little or no alteration, a method resulting in a remarkably naturalistic work. It is the vibrant youth and beauty of Maud Franklin—the artist's longtime model and mistress—that endow the painting with its assertive and nonchalant charm.

Maud Franklin (1857-circa 1941) met Whistler when she was in her teens and Whistler in his forties. She lived with Whistler, bore him two daughters, and was his supportive partner during the most difficult years of his career. Delighting in Maud's grace, Whistler drew her in more than sixty works ranging from oils to lithographs. He showed her sleeping, sewing, reading, sick in bed, and in all her various moods and activities.

This painting, however, depicts her at her most vibrant, in a formfitting dress that reveals her pretty figure and light step. This apparent self-confidence would stand Maud in good stead when Whistler cast her off in 1888 in order to marry the widow of his friend, architect E.W. Godwin. She, however, went on to marry a rich New Yorker and thereafter lived a prosperous life in Paris and London.

To 1904
Theodore Duret (1838-1927), Paris, to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Theodore Duret in June 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.

[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 Owners
Theodore Duret
On View Location
Currently not on view
portrait, United States, woman
Collection(s) Area
American Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Art Project, Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

Please note: The Freer Gallery of Art will be closed to the public from January 2016 until summer 2017. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Library, and Archives will remain open for the duration of the renovation. Learn more »