James McNeill Whistler
Arrangement in Black:
Portrait of F. R. Leyland
Copyright Freer Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Materials Oil on canvas
Dimensions 192.8 cm x 91.9 cm
Marks Signed with a butterfly
Further information Collection Freer Gallery of Art, Washington,
Andrew McLaren Young, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and
Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven
and London, Yale University Press, 1980 (97, plate 104).
Note Frederick Leyland was a Liverpool shipping merchant and an important collector of new British art. Whistler called this portrait Arrangement in Black to emphasise that colour was central to his idea. He particularly liked working with subtle, muted tones. Here the colour black gives the impression of the elegance and refinement of the sitter: Leyland is shown in stylish evening dress. The fluid brushwork gives the suggestion of ease. The way in which Leyland appears to be emerging from the shadows is an obvious debt to the painting of the seventeenth century Spanish artist Velázquez. Apparently Whistler had problems painting Leylands legs and marks can be seen on the canvas where Whistler painted them out and started again. The right leg was originally further to the left. The title recalls musical arrangements. The painting was a companion to Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland.
Related works YMSM 106.