About This Artwork

James McNeill Whistler
American, 1834–1903

Arrangement in Flesh Color and Brown: Portrait of Arthur Jerome Eddy, 1894

Oil on canvas
209.9 × 92.4 cm (82 5/8 × 36 3/8 in.)
Signed, middle right: butterfly monogram

Arthur Jerome Eddy Memorial Collection, 1931.501

By the early 1890s, James McNeill Whistler had begun to earn recognition for his art on both sides of the Atlantic, and he received many commissions to portray prominent Americans and Europeans. Sensitive and understated in their characterization of the sitter, his portraits were also conceived as compositions of subtle color and form, as the first part of the title of this work, Arrangement in Flesh Color and Brown, demonstrates. This portrait depicts Arthur Jerome Eddy, a Chicago lawyer. Eddy asked Whistler to paint his likeness after seeing the artist’s work in the World’s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893. Eddy traveled to Whistler’s Paris studio, where the two apparently formed a lasting friendship. Following Whistler’s death, Eddy wrote Recollections and Impressions of James A. McNeill Whistler (1903) as a memorial to the painter. In the portrait, Whistler used a muted palette and placed his subject against a subdued, gray background. Eddy commented on the artist’s technique: “It was as if the portrait were hidden within the canvas and the master by passing his wand day after day over the surface evoked the image.” In 1913 Eddy purchased many works from the famous Armory Show, which introduced Americans to avant-garde art from Europe and the United States (and enraged many in the process). This exhibition, which Eddy helped bring to the Art Institute of Chicago, prompted him to write the first book by an American on modern European art, Cubists and Post-Impressionism (1914). The Arthur Jerome Eddy Memorial Collection, including this portrait, was presented to the Art Institute in 1931.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, "Catalogue of the Seventy Third Annual Exhibition," January 25-March 5, 1904, cat. 31.

Boston, Copley Hall, "Oil Paintings, Watercolors, Pastels, and Drawings. Memorial Exhibition of the works of Mr. J. McNeill Whistler, Boston," February 1904, cat. 18.

Art Institute of Chicago, "Twentieth Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists," October 22-Decembeer 1, 1907, cat. 435 (as "Portrait of a Gentleman").

The Arts Club of Chicago, "Loan Portrait Exhibition," December 7-21, 1918, cat. 36.

Art Institute of Chicago, "Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Late Arthur Jerome Eddy," September 19-October 22, 1922, cat. 66.

Art Institute of Chicago, "Sargent, Whistler and Mary Cassatt," January 14-February 25, 1954, cat. 119; traveled to New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, March 25-May 23, 1954.

Art Institute of Chicago, "James McNeill Whistler," , January 13-February 25, 1968, cat. 41; traveled to Utica, Munson-Williams Proctor Institute, March 17-April 28, 1968.

Atlanta, High Museum of Art, "After Whistler", November 15, 2003-February 8, 2004; traveled to Detroit Institute of Art, March 6-May 30, 2004 (Detroit only).

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

Publication History

Judith A. Barter et al, American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), pp. 302-304, no. 154.

"Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, Highlights of the Collection," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2017) p. 63.

Interpretive Resources

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