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

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Head of a Peasant Woman


The early provenance is uncertain. It could have been passed by family descent from Whistler's half-brother, William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900) to Beatrice Winans (Comtesse de Béarn) (1884-1907). There is no record of it before 1905 when she lent it to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition. The Comtesse died shortly after the birth of her son, and the painting could well have passed to her sister, who was known as an important collector.


  • 1905: 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. 80) as 'Tête de Femme'.
  • 1905: Œuvres de James McNeill Whistler, Palais de l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1905 (cat. no. 3b) as 'Tête de paysanne'.

It was not, as far as is known, exhibited in Whistler's lifetime.

Head of a Peasant Woman, The Hunterian
Head of a Peasant Woman, The Hunterian
La Mère Gérard (1), Colby College Museum of Art
La Mère Gérard (1), Colby College Museum of Art

At its first known exhibition, at the Whistler Memorial exhibition in London in 1905, it was compared to La Mère Gérard (1) [YMSM 026], but showed, wrote the Sheffield Daily Telegraph on 23 February 1905, 'a little more decision.'

Last updated: 13th December 2020 by Margaret