Skip to Content
Today Open today 10–11 members | 11–5 public

Study for "Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle"

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of oil on canvas.




James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903)

About this artwork

In 1872, James McNeill Whistler began a large-scale portrait of Scottish historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who lived near the artist in London. Whistler executed several studies, including this one, which strongly resembles the finished painting. Carlyle endured numerous sittings, as Whistler labored over the portrait with particular emphasis on the aesthetics of the sitter’s black coat. Concerned with harmonious arrangements of color and form, the artist was less interested in depicting the details of Carlyle’s face. The composition is strikingly similar to Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1871; Musée d’Orsay), also known as Whistler’s Mother.


On View, Gallery 176


Arts of the Americas


James McNeill Whistler


Study for "Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle"


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

c. 1872–1873


Oil on canvas


Signed at right with butterfly


28.6 × 21 cm (11 1/4 × 8 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Emily Crane Chadbourne

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions