The Trial Sermon, Joanna Douglas at Her Desk

(American, 1834–1903)
block cut by
Image: 15.3 x 11.5 cm (6 x 4 1/2 in.); Sheet: 24.6 x 17.7 cm (9 11/16 x 6 15/16 in.)
Catalogue raisonné: Johnson 6
You can copy, modify, and distribute this work, all without asking permission. Learn more about CMA's Open Access Initiative.

Download, Print and Share


One of only a handful of illustrations created by American artist James McNeill Whistler, this image accompanied an anonymously published romantic, moralizing short story entitled “The Trial Sermon” that appeared in the 1862 issue of Good Words, a British periodical. Like many of Whistler’s paintings, his illustrations avoid narrative elements; he focused instead on character sketches, allowing him to explore the visual and technical possibilities of his medium. Lost in thought, the woman in the picture communicates very little of her interior life. Instead, Whistler’s rendering of the figure matches that of her surroundings, turning her into an aesthetic object.
The Trial Sermon, Joanna Douglas at Her Desk

The Trial Sermon, Joanna Douglas at Her Desk


James McNeill Whistler, Dalziel Brothers

(American, 1834–1903), (British)
America, 19th century

Visually Similar Artworks

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.