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.
- James McNeill Whistler
- Study for "Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle"
- United States
- c. 1872–1873
- Oil on canvas
- Signed at right with butterfly
- 28.6 × 21 cm (11 1/4 × 8 1/4 in.)
- Gift of Emily Crane Chadbourne