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image: The Angry Sea

The Angry Sea

Oil painting
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
1883 or 1884
Oil on wood panel
H x W: 12.4 x 21.7 cm (4 7/8 x 8 9/16 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
The Angry Sea is one of the sparest and most abstract of Whistler's small oils. When Whistler exhibited it at the Dowdeswells' gallery in 1884, unsympathetic reviewers complained that paintings like this were mere daubs, dismissing such efforts as unfinished sketches not fit for public display. The fashion writer for the Court Circular damned The Angry Sea with ironic praise, noting that "this wonderful artist uses frames of greenish gold wherever the picture requires such a setting. A strip of angry grey-green sea, framed in green gold, against dull pink background [the color of the gallery walls] is an exquisite arrangement of colour."Quotation from "Causerie," Court Circular, May 24, 1884.

To 1904
John James Cowan (1846-1936), Edinburgh, Scotland, to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from John James Cowan, through William Marchant and Co, London, in June 1904 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Whistler List, Paintings, pg. 12, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Former owner
John James Cowan (C.L. Freer source) (1846 - 1936)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
On View Location
Currently not on view
ocean, United States, water
Collection(s) Area
American Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

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