One principal title is known:
'A White Note' is the preferred title.
A three-quarter-length portrait in vertical format. A young woman with long dark red hair stands in profile to left, looking out of a window. She wears a white dress with low neckline and full sleeves. Her hands are clasped in front of her waist. Through the window is a landscape, under a grey sky. In the foreground is a field of ripe corn. There is a wooded hill in the distance, and a steam locomotive travelling from right to left in a cutting in front of the trees.
It may have been painted in Guéthary, Basses-Pyrénées, where Whistler also painted Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz [YMSM 041].
Joanna Hiffernan (b. ca 1843-d.1886), Whistler's chief model and partner in the 1860s. She also posed in white for Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl [YMSM 038], Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl [YMSM 052], Symphony in White, No. 3 [YMSM 061], The Artist's Studio [YMSM 062], and The Artist in his Studio (Whistler in his Studio) [YMSM 063].
The inclusion of a locomotive in a picture by Whistler is unusual, but it may reflect attitudes towards contemporary subject matter associated with the Realist master, Jean-Désiré-Gustave Courbet (1819-1877). 6
1: New English Art Club, Dudley Gallery, London, 1888 (cat. no. 98).
2: Œuvres de James McNeill Whistler, Palais de l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1905 (cat. no. 6).
Last updated: 18th April 2021 by Margaret