James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Artist: William Merritt Chase (American, Williamsburg, Indiana 1849–1916 New York)

Date: 1885

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 74 1/8 x 36 1/4 in. (188.3 x 92.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of William H. Walker, 1918

Accession Number: 18.22.2


On his way to Spain in 1885 by way of London, Chase decided to introduce himself to James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), whose works he had long admired. Whistler urged him to stay longer so they could paint portraits of one another. In depicting Whistler, Chase echoed traits that appear in his subject’s recent portraits, such as that of Théodore Duret (13.20): an elongated figure, a low-keyed palette, free brushwork, and ambiguous space. Although Chase must have intended to honor Whistler and his style with these echoes, Whistler was offended, calling the work a “monstrous lampoon” and possibly destroying his portrait of Chase.