Emelie Eyre Jones was the daughter of Justice or Justus Jones (1808–1893) and Rosanna Jones (b. 1812). Her first name is recorded in various forms, as Emelie, Emily, Amelia and, for short, Milly.
Justice Jones was an Inspector for H.M. Customs in Hull in 1851 and most of their children were born there. The children were listed in the 1851 census as Equity Ann aged 15, John (12), Jane (9), Maria A. (7), Mary (5) and baby Emily E., aged 1. By the 1861 census they were living in Sculcoates, Yorkshire, the family being listed as Equity Ann, now aged 26, 'Artist de Modes'; 'Anne Maria', 17, actress; Mary Emma, 15, actress; Frederick (13) and 'Amelia Eyre' (11) both 'scholars'.
On 10 May 1870 she married the actor Frederick Henry Robson (born ca 1844/1845). Mr and Mrs Robson were living at 30 Fentiman Road, Lambeth in 1918, and her name ('Emily Eyre Robson') was still recorded there in 1920.
One of her sisters also modelled for Whistler. Maria Augusta ('Anne Maria', as listed in 1861, seems to have been a mistake) was probably born in 1842 and was baptised in May 1843. Augusta Maria or Maria Augusta Jones was married to 'Frederick T. Hart' (born 1843), a stained glass artist, according to the 1881 census - at which time her 73 year old father Justice Jones was living with Frederick and Augusta in Marylebone, London. Frederick Tucker Hart, son of William and Lydia Hart, was born in December 1843 in Faversham, Kent.
This marriage may not have lasted since one Frederick Tucker Hart married Sarah Hammond on 5 November 1883 in Bethnal Green.
Emelie ('Milly') Jones posed for Whistler's Symphony in White, No. 3 y061 in Frederick Jameson's studio, 62 Great Russell Street, in 1865. Whistler described her as she appeared in his picture, in a letter to Fantin-Latour on 16 August 1865: 'tête blonde, robe de soie blanche jaunatre - ce que l'on appelle foulard - quelque fleurs pourpre foncé tombées par terre près la robe jaunâtre' (#11477).
Whistler was in correspondence with Jones concerning sittings between 1863 and at least 1868. From February to March 1868 Jones was sitting to Whistler. She was described in the summer of 1868 by Mary Glen Perine from Baltimore, a friend of Whistler's mother, as the wife of an 'Ethiopian minstrel', and as posing in Chinese drapery. She may have posed for The Artist's Studio y062 and The Artist in his Studio (Whistler in his Studio) y063. The Pennells certainly thought that Jones had posed for The Artist's Studio y062. Joanna Hiffernan was one model in that painting, and and the other was described as 'la Japonaise' by Whistler to Fantin-Latour on 16 August 1865. However, the painting was continued over subsequent years. Since she is only seen from the back, she is impossible to identify, but she has dark reddish blonde hair, which is not unlike that seen in Symphony in White, No. 3 y061.
Emelie Jones also posed for other artists including Whistler's friend Albert Moore.
Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980 .