Blue and Silver: Morning, Ajaccio

Accession Number

Blue and Silver: Morning, Ajaccio

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
watercolor on Japan paper, mounted on board

9 7/8 x 5 13/16 in. (25.08 x 14.61 cm);19 3/8 x 14 3/8 in. (49.2 x 36.5 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Fall 2010
James McNeill Whistler
United States, 1834–1903
Blue and Silver: Morning, Ajaccio
Watercolor on Japan paper, mounted on board
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, 1955/1.90
Whistler’s health began to decline in 1900, and his doctor recommended that the artist consider a warmer climate during the winter months. He departed London for Algiers in mid-December of that year and subsequently relocated to Corsica. As winter gave way to spring, Whistler began to etch and draw out of doors and executed this unfinished watercolor of the major port on the western side of the island.
It seems that Whistler did not enjoy the picturesque home of Napoleon. He wrote to John Lavery: “I consider this Mediterranean health resort a poor business altogether!—when it is warm enough to stand still, it is vile to look at! And when you are relieved from the glare and linger to look with paint brushes in your fingers, you are blown indoors by Mistral [the wind]. . .”

Subject matter
This work was painted at the end of Whistler’s life (he died in 1903). The artist was in poor health when he spent the winter of 1900-01 in Algiers and Ajaccio, Corsica. He painted, etched, and filled many notebooks with drawings, including over 1700 watercolors in his lifetime. He painted thinly, leaving areas blank to suggest light or texture. He outlined a subject in pencil or brush, and then added washes quickly with small brushes, altering, but rarely rubbing out.

Physical Description
This watercolor on Japan paper, mounted on board, is vertically oriented. The piece is very dark, with the forms barely visible and very abstract. The upper quarter of the piece is blue, white, and pink (presumably a morning sky). In the next quarter down is what appears to be a body of water reflecting the sky, which a city and hills on the fall side of the shore from the viewer. The lower half the work has abstract figures in brown and cream that appear to be on the shore. Compositionally, there is a zig-zag recession into space. The piece is surrounded by the white border of the board that it is mounted on.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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modern and contemporary art

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