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Study for "Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle"

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




James McNeill Whistler
American, 1834–1903

About this artwork

In 1872, James McNeill Whistler began a large-scale portrait of Scottish historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who lived near the artist in London. Whistler executed several studies, including this one, which strongly resembles the finished painting. Carlyle endured numerous sittings, as Whistler labored over the portrait with particular emphasis on the aesthetics of the sitter’s black coat. Concerned with harmonious arrangements of color and form, the artist was less interested in depicting the details of Carlyle’s face. The composition is strikingly similar to Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1871; Musée d’Orsay), also known as Whistler’s Mother.


On View, Gallery 176


Arts of the Americas


James McNeill Whistler


Study for "Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle"


United States (Artist's nationality)


c. 1872–1873


Oil on canvas


Signed at right with butterfly


28.6 × 21 cm (11 1/4 × 8 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Emily Crane Chadbourne

Reference Number


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