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Toning the Bell

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

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Walter Shirlaw
American, born Scotland, 1838–1909

About this artwork

Like many artists of his generation, Walter Shirlaw furthered his training in Europe, studying at the Royal Academy in Munich. German instruction focused on a dark, painterly realism and was steeped in an astute understanding of aesthetic traditions. In Toning the Bell, executed during his student years and now considered his best-known work, the artist demonstrated an accomplished Munich style, featuring noble peasants, a limited tonal palette, and strong contrasts of light and dark. Prior to his time abroad, Shirlaw had worked in Chicago and helped establish the Chicago Academy of Design, a forerunner to the Art Institute of Chicago.


On View, Gallery 175


Arts of the Americas


Walter Shirlaw


Toning the Bell


Munich (Place depicted)

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.



Oil on canvas


Signed, lower left: "Walter Shirlaw / 1874"


101.6 × 76.2 cm (40 × 30 in.)

Credit Line

Friends of American Art Collection

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.

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Extended information about this artwork

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