The Purple Cap

citation

Maker(s)
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (United States, 1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
1870s; reworked 1885
Medium
Drawing; crayon and pastel on brown paper
Dimensions
H x W (a - drawing): 27.8 × 16.7 cm (10 15/16 × 6 9/16 in)
Geography
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
F1905.128a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Drawing
Type

Drawing

Keywords
United States, woman
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. 31, 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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919

Label

"Take the pastels. Whistler did not discover the medium, but he certainly found a fresh use for it. Instead of rubbing the colour all over the paper, and generally endeavouring to imitate the effect of an oil painting, Whistler made a more crayon-like use of his pastel stick. He drew rather than painted. His colour he used sparingly with dainty, incisive touches. The result was a poetic suggestiveness of form and gem-like brilliancy of colour never seen before nor equalled since."
Frank Rutter, Round the Galleries, 'Sunday Special & Times', March 26, 1905. Whistler Scrapbook 5, p. 42, Charles Lang Freer Papers, Freer Gallery of Art Archives.

Published References
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 270, pl. 267.
  • Margaret F. MacDonald. James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels, and Watercolours : A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, 1995. .
  • Elizabeth Robins Pennell Joseph Pennell. The Whistler Journal. Philadelphia, 1921. p. 78.
  • Whistler portfolio. London. pl. 3.
  • William Scott. Reminiscences of Whistler: Some Venice Recollections. vol. 31 London, December 1903. p. 108.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum