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

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The Artist's Niece


Whistler's original title is not known. The sole recorded title is as follows:

  • 'The Artist's Niece' (1905, ISSPG). 1
  • 'The Artist's Niece' (1980, YMSM). 2


The Artist's Niece, 1849, The Hunterian
The Artist's Niece, 1849, The Hunterian

The head of a young child with curly shoulder-length blonde hair, against a bright blue background. Her eyes are closed and she looks rather lopsided. The portrait is unfinished.


Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937) , later Mrs Charles Thynne.

Annie was the eldest daughter of the surgeon and etcher Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) and Whistler's half-sister, Deborah Delano Haden (1825-1908).

Annie was born on 14 December 1848. Whistler told his mother: 'How you would like to see the Babie … her hair has grown and is going to be of a pretty flaxen colour and Sis intends it to be curly, so that she is to be the pretty Miss Haden.' 3

Ma Nièce, 1849, The Hunterian
Ma Nièce, 1849, The Hunterian

Whistler made a pencil sketch ('Ma Nièce' [M.0021]) and planned to do another portrait, possibly this painting, before he returned to America. After his return to Europe in 1855, Annie posed for several later paintings including At the Piano [YMSM 024] and Harmony in Green and Rose: The Music Room [YMSM 034] and etchings including Annie Haden with Books [6] and Annie [7].

Although he was fond of them, after a quarrel between Whistler and Haden in 1867 it was difficult for Whistler to see his sister or her children.


A portrait, inscribed and signed 'To Annie.- Whistler', and now in the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, was lent by Jérôme Doucet to the Paris Memorial Exhibition of 1903 (cat. no. 31) as 'Portrait de Miss Annie Haden'; but neither the compilers of the 1980 catalogue, nor this, consider that the sitter was Annie, nor its author Whistler. 4


1: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1905 (cat. no. 31).

2: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 1).

3: J. Whistler to A. M. Whistler, [17] March 1849, GUW #06390.

4: National Museum of Western Art website at YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 1).

Last updated: 22nd October 2020 by Margaret