James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
St Ives: The Beach
oil on panel
9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm.)
Painted in 1884.
Jacques Emil Blanche, by 1905.
(Possibly) London, Christie's, circa 1920s.
(Probably) Miss Dodge, London.
William Church Osborn, New York, brother-in-law of the above, by descent.
William H. Osborn, son of the above, by descent, 1951.
Private collection, by descent.
Christie's, New York, 11 December 1981, lot 112, sold by the above (as By the Shores, St. Ives).
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
A.M. Young, M. MacDonald, R. Spencer, H. Mills, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven, Connecticut, 1980, p. 144, no. 267, pl. 181, illustrated.
M.F. MacDonald, G. Petri, James McNeill Whistler: The paintings, a catalogue raisonné, University of Glasgow, 2014, on-line website at
Paris, France, Palais de L'École des Beaux-Arts, Oeuvres de James McNeill Whistler, 1905, p. 49, no. 78 (as St. Ives. La plage. – (St. Ives. The Beach.)).
London, New Gallery, Regent Street, Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, 1904, p. 109, no. 88 (as St. Yves. [sic] The Beach).
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Lot Essay

James McNeill Whistler painted the present work while visiting the small fishing village of St. Ives in Cornwall, England from January to March of 1884. Daniel E. Sutherland writes of Whistler's time in St. Ives: "His subjects were mostly 'shops and seas and skies,' as he put it, but they also included fishing boats, cottages, cliffs, and headlands. Both format and subject may have been influenced by his recent experiments with a camera obscura. Fascinated by the way its reverse telescoping reduced the size of a scene and flattened perceptions of depth, Whistler had found an entirely new way of viewing nature...It simplified color schemes, too, by limiting the range of perceptible tones to five. [Walter Richard] Sickert and [Mortimer Luddington] Menpes marveled at the results, with Sickert later insisting that the St. Ives paintings represented the best of Whistler's art." (Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake, New Haven, Connecticut, 2014, p. 198)

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