It is very likely indeed that it had been in the Winans family from the 1850s. Ross Winans (1795-1877), a railway engineer, married first Julia de Kay (1800-1850) and secondly, years later, Elizabeth K. West (1887-1889). By his first marriage he had five children: Thomas de Kay, born in 1820, William Louis (1823), Julia de Kay (1825), DeWitt Clinton (1838) and finally Walter Scott Winans, born in 1840.
The Winans and Whistler families were connected by profession, marriage and patronage. Thomas de Kay Winans (1820-1878) was one of Whistler's earliest patrons. His sister Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875) married Whistler's older half-brother George William Whistler (1822-1869). William Louis Winans (1823-1897) was enthusiastic about Whistler's paintings and tried to obtain publicity for him, in the USA. 1 He married Maria Anne de La Rue (1825-1904), and they had two sons, Walter Winans (1852-1920) and Louis William Winans (1857-1927). Both the brothers lived in England, and could have inherited Whistler's copy, either after W. L. Winans' death in 1897 or his wife's death in 1904. Louis W. Winans was a collector, among other things, of gems, including the famous Agra diamond. 2
According to members of the Winans family, they had no record of this painting by 1980. 3
The painting was not exhibited in Whistler's lifetime. It was shown only once, at the 1905 Memorial exhibition in London after Whistler's death. The Westminster Gazette described it as 'a curiosity in the shape of a version by Whistler of a picture by Boucher in the Louvre. This is presumably an early work, and not without interest, as it is rather, perhaps, to be described as a translation than a copy.' 4
Last updated: 25th November 2020 by Margaret