• Moreby Hall
  • Moreby Hall

Moreby Hall

An interior of Moreby Hall in Yorkshire; in the center of the wall a large open fireplace with paintings above; to the left a seated figure; signed with butterfly at lower left.
Maker nationality and date
Watercolor on paper
H x W: 19.5 x 28.3 cm (7 11/16 x 11 1/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Object Number
Production location
England, Yorkshire, East Riding
Figure; Interior
Blue-black butterfly in lower left corner
Exhibition History
Dowdeswell and Dowdeswell, "Notes"—"Harmonies"—"Nocturnes", May 1884
Royal Scottish Academy, 78th Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, Spring or Autumn of 1904
Palais de l'École des Beaux-Art, Exposition des Oeuvres de James McNeill Whistler, May 1905
Selected Curatorial Remarks

1. Glazer, Jacobson, McCarthy, Roeder, wall label, 2019:
Whistler's domestic interiors often convey a sense of intimacy or capture a private moment. An early work in this vein is Harmony in Green and Rose: The Music Room (1860-61), an oil painting of his half-sister (playing a hidden piano), his niece, and a family friend. Twenty years later he returned to the theme in his watercolors.

He frequently depicted his model and longtime companion Maud Franklin, recognizable by her auburn hair, in quiet moments at home. Several compositions contain suggestions of an unseen person – perhaps the artist himself – by including a hat on the bed or an empty chair.

2. Katherine Roeder, 2018:
Moreby Hall must have been painted after JMW's fall 1881 watercolor supply purchase and prior to the 1884 Dowdeswell exhibition.

Selected Published References
1. Curry: James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art, Pg. 199
Moreby Hall is located just south of York in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The house was built from 1818 to 1831 in the "Tudor-Elizabethan" style and is "grander inside than outside." The scale of the interior is quite large for the size of the house. Moreby Hall is noted for several features, including a central hall lit from above and a long gallery that ran the entire length of the building. Whistler may have chosen one of these two parts of the house for his interior view. The watercolor captures the comfortable yet imposing atmosphere of Victorian houses with their eclectic mixtures of old-master paintings, fine porcelains, overstuffed furniture, and interesting weekend guests, one of whom must have been Whistler.
Catalogue Raisonne number
MacDonald Catalogue number
Previous owner(s)
John James Cowan (C.L. Freer source) (1846-1936)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)
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