By the Balcony

citation

Maker(s)
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (United States, 1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
1896
Medium
Lithograph on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 21.6 x 14 cm (8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in)
Geography
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
F1905.212
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Print
Type

Lithograph

Keywords
balcony, 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, Lithographs, 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
Thomas Robert Way (C.L. Freer source) 1861-1913
Thomas Way Sr. 1837 - 1915

Label

One of Whistler's most personal lithographs, By the Balcony is also one of the rarest. Only six impressions are known. The heavily drawn lines describing Whistler's dying wife Beatrix and her bed emphasize the weightiness of the moment, as the failing woman grasps the frame of the open window. What lies outside the window--the Thames, life, the future--is barely indicated. Like the stark black triangular shadow rising from behind Beatrix's head, death is present in the room.
Whistler lithographs are identified by "C" numbers as described in The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998). This print is C160.

Published References
  • With Kindest Regards: The Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler 1890-1903. Washington. p. 114, fig. 30.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 198, fig. 128.4.
  • Katharine Lochnan. The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler. Exh. cat. New Haven and London, 1984. p. 267.
  • The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler. 2 vol., Chicago and New York, 1998. pp. 438-443.
  • Elizabeth Robins Pennell Joseph Pennell. The Life of James McNeill Whistler. 2 vols., London and Philadelphia. p. 328.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum