In this painting, Whistler explores problems in technique and composition, as well as his own psyche; the viewer is confronted by a cool, appraising gaze from a face of deceptive immediacy. The flattened forms, subtle gradations of gray, and asymmetrical composition of the work reveal a strong Japanese influence.
Artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American, 1834-1903
  • Arrangement in Gray: Portrait of the Painter
Date ca. 1872
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 29 1/2 × 21 inches (74.9 × 53.3 cm)
Framed: 39 5/8 × 31 5/8 × 2 1/2 inches (100.6 × 80.3 × 6.4 cm)
Credit Line Bequest of Henry Glover Stevens in memory of Ellen P. Stevens and Mary M. Stevens
Accession Number 34.27
Department American Art before 1950
On View Modern C235, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed, at left: [butterfly in circle]
Inscriptions Signed, on the verso: frame decorated by Whistler [according to the 1905 memorial exhibition catalogue]
Alexander Ionides.
Alecco Ionides.
1895, George McCulloch (London, England);
1907, his widow, Mrs. Coutts Michie.
until 1911, William O'Leary Fine Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA).
1911-1934, Henry Glover Stevens (Detroit, Michigan, USA);
1934-present, bequest to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Society of French Artists 6th Exhibition, 1873, no. 130.

Exposition International. Exh. cat., Galerie Georges Petit. 1883, no. 2.

Way, T. and G.R. Dennis. The Art of James McNeill Whistler. London, 1905.

London Memorial Exhibition. 1905, no. 30.

Pennell, E.R. The Life of James McNeill Whistler. London, 1908, p. 80.

Gallatin, A.E. “Whistler- The Self-Portrait in Oil.” Art in America, 1 (1913):p. 151.

Second Annual Exhibition of American Artists. Detroit Museum of Art, 1916, no. 103.

Seventh Annual Exhibition. Detroit Institute of Arts, 1921, no. 134.

Bulletin of the DIA, 14, 2 (1934): p. 20.

Whistler Loan Exhibition. Exh. cat., Macbeth Gallery. New York, 1947, no. 20 (cover ill.).

Exhibition of James McNeill Whistler. Exh. cat., Lyman Allyn Museum. New London, CT, 1949, no. 14.

America and Impressionism. Exh. cat., Museum of Art. Birmingham, AL, 1951, p. 56.

Expatriates: Whistler, Cassatt, Sargent. Exh. cat., Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute. Utica, 1953.

Sargent, Whistler, and Mary Cassatt. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1954, no. 103.

Art News, 53, 2 (April 1954): p. 21 (ill.).

Directions in Twentieth Century American Painting. Exh. cat., Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Dallas, October 7-November 12, 1961, pg. 7, cat. no. 8.

The Birth of Impressionism. Exh. cat., Wildenstein’s. New York, 1963, no. 67.

Sutton, D. “Nocturne: The Art of James McNeill Whistler.” Country Life (1963): frontispiece.

______________. James McNeill Whistler, Paintings, Etchings. 1966, p. 190 (pl. 59).

Triumph of Realism. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1967, no. 7 (ill.). [catalogue dates art as 1867]

James McNeill Whistler. Exh. cat., Nationalgalerie. Berlin, 1969, p. 73 (pl. 20).

The World of Whistler 1834-1903. Time-Life Library of Art, 1970, pp. 120-121 (ill.). [as Arrangement in Grey]

Spencer, R. Aesthetic Movement. London, 1972, p. 94 (ill.).

McMullen, R. Victorian Outsider. New York, 1973, p. 17 (ill.).

Arts and Crafts in Detroit. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1976, p. 246 (ill.)

Heritage and Horizon. Exh. cat., Albright-Knox Gallery. Buffalo, 1976, no. 29 (ill.).

“Family Art Game.” DIA Advertising Supplement. Detroit News (May 20, 1979): p. 27 (ill.).

Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret MacDonald, and Robin Spencer. The Painting of James McNeill Whistler. New Haven, 1980, Vol. 1, pp. 74-75, no. 122.

“Family Art Game.” DIA Advertising Supplement. Detroit News (April 18, 1982): p. 23 (ill.).

Stein, D. Whistler. New York, 1984 (frontispiece).

100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, pp. 200-201 (ill.).

“Family Art Game.” DIA Advertising Supplement. Detroit News (April 14, 1985): p. 26 (ill.).

Kondek, Donna. “Whistler’s Other.” Wayne State, 1, 2 (1987): p. 13.

Reff, Theodore. Degas, The Artist’s Mind. Cambridge, 1987 (fig. 2).

Spencer. 1989, p. 108 (pl. 44).

Washington. 1995, p. 59 (fig 2:10).

Crane, Michael. Detroit’s Annual Exhibition of American Art: The Foundation of a Collection., 2005.

James McNeill Whistler Retrospective. Exh. cat., The National Museum of Modern Art. Kyoto, 2014, no. 11.