The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler

The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler

The more than 300 etchings and lithographs that make up the Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler represent some of the rarest and most beautiful impressions by this American master. They are contextualized alongside exquisite examples of the artist’s work in other media, including the luminous oil painting Chelsea in Ice, from 1864, in addition to 22 other oils, watercolors, and pastels by Whistler. The Lunders also have given Colby a collection of more than 150 books, journals, photographs, and archival materials related to Whistler. This research material is available by appointment to students and researchers. 

PLEASE NOTE: Not all works in the Colby Museum collection are on view at any given time. If you have a question about works on view, please call 207-859-5600 prior to visiting. 

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Biography of James McNeill Whistler

James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) was born in Lowell, Mass., lived in Russia as a young child, and attended the United States Military Academy for three years. When he was 21 he left the United States, never to return, although he always maintained his citizenship. He first went to Paris to study art with the painter Charles Gleyre. Four years later he moved to London, where he was to spend most of the rest of his life, with significant periods in Venice and Paris. While he achieved fame as a painter, executing such signature works as Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, of 1871, and his impressionistic, proto-abstract Nocturnes, he was also an extremely serious and innovative printmaker, executing some 450 etchings and drypoints and approximately 180 lithographs throughout his career. For a more in-depth biography see the University of Glasgow:

The Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies

The Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies is dedicated to nurturing, producing, and disseminating original scholarship and critical analysis of James McNeill Whistler and his international artistic circles. The consortium members are the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the University of Glasgow, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Colby College Museum of Art. As guardians of the world’s largest and finest collections of works by Whistler, these institutions share a responsibility to increase public understanding of this internationally significant artist and the rich cultural contexts in which he worked.

The consortium was formed to provide a structure that fosters collaboration and coordination across institutions with an interest in Whistler and his times. In the past two decades, Whistler studies have expanded to include conservation science, cross-cultural analysis, and interdisciplinary approaches, as well as important new monographs, a wide range of exhibitions, edited correspondence, and catalogue raisonnés. Our mission is to provide ongoing institutional support for such studies and to make Whistler scholarship available to a wide range of audiences, including art historians, museum visitors, and students at all levels.


James McNeill Whistler, The Shop-An Exterior, c. 1883-85, Watercolor and pencil on paper, The Lunder Collection, 2013.307

Banner Image: James McNeill Whistler, Black Lion Wharf (from the Thames Set), 1859 (printed 1879), Etching, third state (of three), 7 x 10 inches, The Lunder Collection, 2013.323