Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow


Sybil Frances Eden

Title: Lady
Birthname: Grey
Nationality: English
Date of birth: 9 April 1867
Place of birth: Calcutta, India
Date of death: 17 June 1945
Place of death: Durham, UK
Category: model, aristocrat


She was the daughter of Sir William Grey, a former Lieut. Governor of Bengal and Governor of Jamaica.

A much admired Society beauty, in 1886 she married Sir William Eden, a landowner, collector and amateur painter, the second son of the sixth Baronet. They had five sons, one of whom died at birth. They never divorced but eventually lived separate lives. Lady Eden died on 17 June 1945, aged seventy-eight.

Their daughter, Elfrida Marjorie Eden (1887-1943), married Guy, Lord Brooke in 1909 and became Countess of Warwick in 1924.


On 4 March 1895 Eden brought an action against Whistler because the artist refused to hand over the portrait he had been commissioned to paint of Lady Eden, Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden y408, Whistler being dissatisfied with Eden's payment. Whistler lost but, believing that as an artist he had the right to withhold any work with which he was not entirely happy, appealed in the courts on 15 December 1897 and the decision was reversed and he was allowed to keep the picture, on the proviso that it was made irrecognisable.

Lady Eden was also painted by Philip Wilson Steer (1860-1942) in 1896, and by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), whose portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1907.


Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, London, 1896; Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris: Louis-Henry May, 1899 ; Eden, Sir Timothy Calvert, The Tribulations of a Baronet, London, 1933 ; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980 ; Walkley, Giles, Artists' houses in London 1764-1914, Aldershot, 1994 .

The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, 1855-1903, edited by Margaret F. MacDonald, Patricia de Montfort and Nigel Thorp, 2003-4, website, University of Glasgow.