Sea and Rain

James Abbott McNeill Whistler1865

University of Michigan Museum of Art

University of Michigan Museum of Art


  • Title: Sea and Rain
  • Creator: James McNeill Whistler
  • Date Created: 1865
  • Location: Trouville, France
  • Physical Dimensions: w100.3 x h77.4 x d6.5 (work with frame)
  • Label Copy: During the late summer and early fall of 1865, Whistler traveled to the Normandy region of France to the resort town of Trouville and painted there with fellow-artist Gustave Courbet. Although Courbet later claimed Whistler as a student, Whistler's painting style had already begun to depart from Courbet's signature thick application of paint. Sea and Rain is characteristic of Whistler's understated palette and thin veils of paint; this view of the sea, sky, and beach, inhabited by a solitary figure, provides no narrative content and scant specifics about the site or weather. Nevertheless, Sea and Rain is a highly nuanced painting that accurately evokes, rather than describes, the cool, damp, early autumn day at the beach. The melancholy figure, partly obscured by the diaphanous blue area of a tidal pool, becomes a precisely placed accent within the composition. This tonal and lyrical composition does not seem startling to viewers of the twenty-first century accustomed to abstract art, but such understated minimalism in Whistler's paintings stood at odds with the highly finished Academic painting of the period.
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/musart/x-1955-sl-1.89/1955_1_89.JPG?lasttype=boolean;lastview=thumbnail;resnum=1;sel9=ic_exact;size=20;sort=relevance;start=1;subview=detail;view=entry;rgn1=musart_an;select1=starts;q1=1955%2F1.89
  • Medium: oil on canvas


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