James McNeill Whistler’s Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Black: Portrait of Theodore Duret is a captivating oil on canvas painting that showcases the strong silhouettes, elegant contours, and surface patterns emphasized by Whistler. The artwork was completed in 1883, with the dimensions measuring 76 1/8 x 35 3/4 inches (193.4 x 90.8 cm). At the Paris Salon exhibition of 1885, it was met with great acclaim.
The portrait features Theodore Duret, who was a renowned art critic, collector, and orientalist of Whistler’s time. He is depicted donning a black suit paired with a pink domino that forms an “arrangement in flesh color and black.” This play on colors creates an overall serene yet striking effect that captures the essence of Duret’s persona.
Whistler had an affinity for naturalistic portraiture while still maintaining elements of style from his Aesthetic Movement background. This can be seen in his attention to detail when outlining facial features while still retaining an overall sense of abstraction. The woman standing behind Duret adds depth to the painting as well as another visual layer between him and the viewer.
Arrangement in Flesh Color and Black: Portrait of Theodore Duret is another masterpiece added to James McNeill Whistler’s impressive body of work. Its unique use of color combinations coupled with its naturalistic yet stylized approach make it one of Whistler’s most notable works in portraiture.