Possible titles include:
'The Three Girls' is the generally accepted title.
Whistler's invitation to Alan S. Cole in 1873 to view 'the "Three Girls" - "Symphony in White and Red - full palette"!' suggests that he also had this painting in mind when he told the American artist Otto Henry Bacher (1856-1909):
'His most ambitious desire was to paint a grand concerto-like picture with the title "Full Palette" – "just as in music", he [Whistler] explained, "when they employ all the instruments they make it 'Full Band'. If I can find the right kind of thing I will produce a harmony in color corresponding to Beethoven's harmonies in sound." ' 8
The Three Girls [YMSM 088] was copied by Whistler before it was destroyed, so, if the copy, Pink and Grey: Three Figures [YMSM 089] was accurate, the original was a figure composition in horizontal format. Based on this copy, it appears that The Three Girls showed three women in diaphanous white robes in a garden or conservatory. The woman at left stood bending forward to right, with her hands on her knees. The woman in the centre crouched facing to right, with her arms reaching out to a flowering cherry tree in a pot on a low table. At far right there was a flower in a blue and white vase. The woman at right, facing left, had a red headband or scarf; her left arm crossed her body, holding over her right shoulder a large parasol. Behind them was a shoulder-high fence. Awnings or blinds hung on a framework visible above the fence. A rug and a robe lay on the floor.
There were probably several models, possibly including Matilda Maria Gilchrist née Potter (1826-1886), who posed for the drypoint Tillie: A Model , in the same pose (in reverse as printed) as the standing figure at left, and presumably for the drawing reproduced above, Study for 'Tillie: A Model' [M.0369].
Robin Spencer pointed out the relationship between the composition of The Three Girls [YMSM 088] and that of Albert Moore's three figure composition, Pomegranates (Guildhall Art Gallery, London) of 1866. The two figures, the setting and use of drapery in The Shunamite (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) are also comparable to the left and right-hand figures in The Three Girls [YMSM 088]. 11
4: 'American Artists in London, What they have done for Philadelphia', New York Herald, New York, 10 April 1876, p. 5.
9: Diary, Maryland Historical Society Library, Manuscripts Division, Baltimore, MD.
Last updated: 1st June 2020 by Margaret