About This Artwork

James McNeill Whistler
American, 1834–1903

Portrait of Dr. William McNeill Whistler, 1871/73

Oil on panel
43.7 x 34.8 cm (17 3/16 x 13 11/16 in.)

Gift of Mary T. Wentworth in memory of her husband, John, 1977.235

Born in Massachusetts, James McNeill Whistler lived all of his adult life in Europe, working in artistic centers such as Paris, London, and Venice. Whistler painted this portrait of his brother William in London, where both of them then lived; the artist had established a studio there in 1859. Having served as a medical officer for the Confederate Army, Dr. William McNeill Whistler moved to the city after the Civil War and was a respected physician. Whistler modeled his brother’s face with some degree of detail, yet also employed broad brushstrokes of thinly applied paint to merely suggest the sitter’s dress, which blends into a background of flat color.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, "James McNeill Whistler: Paintings, Pastels, Watercolors, Etching, Lithographs," January 13-February 25, 1968; traveled to Utica, New York, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, March 17-April 28, 1968, cat. 18, as "Portrait of Dr. William McNeill Whistler (Portrait of My Brother)."

Art Institute of Chicago, "Whistler, Roussel: Linked Visions," June 20, 2015-September 27, 2015, online catalog.

Art Institute of Chicago, "Whistler's Mother: An American Icon Returns to Chicago," March 4-May 21, 2017, no cat.

Publication History

Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, 73 3 (May-June 1979) pp. 10-11 (ill.).

Ownership History

c. 1873-February 27, 1900, probably William McNeil Whistler, London (gift from the artist); February 27, 1900-unknown, Mrs. William McNeill Whistler, his widow, London. Unknown-October 19, 1918, Burton Mansfield, New Haven, Conneticut; October 19, 1918-January 28, 1919, Vose Galleries, Boston; January 28, 1919-unknown, William T. Cresmer, Chicago. Dates unknown, Anderson Art Galleries, Chicago. Unknown-December 22, 1935, Mrs. Moses J. Wentworth, Chicago; December 22, 1935-June 20, 1958, Mr. and Mrs. John Wentworth, Chicago; June 20, 1958-July 1977, Mrs. John Wentowrth, Chicago and Paris; July 1977-November 1, 1977, estate of Mrs. John Wentworth; given to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Interpretive Resources

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