About this artwork
In the early 1860s, James McNeill Whistler began to develop an art-for-art’s-sake aesthetic, eschewing narrative or naturalistic details to focus more intently on formal concerns. In 1865 the artist traveled to Trouville, a French resort town, where he painted with Gustave Courbet and experimented with a series of increasingly simplified seascapes. The spare composition of this work—consisting solely of a broad expanse of water, a narrow swath of sky, and four delicate sailboats that break the high horizon line—reveals Whistler’s interest in Japanese woodblock prints and the new models they offered for the construction of painted space and depth. The sweeping, horizontal brush strokes and highly restrained palette, limited to pale greens and soft grays, further contribute to the innovative, flattened perspective of this painting.
- James McNeill Whistler
- Trouville (Grey and Green, the Silver Sea)
- Oil on canvas
- Signed, lower right: "Whistler"
- 51.5 × 77.2 cm (20 1/4 × 30 3/8 in.)
- Gift of Honoré and Potter Palmer