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

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Portrait of Miss Leyland (1)

Portrait of Miss Leyland (1) probably dates from about 1872, though it could have been worked on later. 1 It is dated from Whistler's known association with the sitter's parents, Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892) and Frances Leyland (1834-1910). According to the Pennells, Leyland commissioned portraits of all their four children, including Fanny Leyland (1857-1880), who, being the oldest, would have been addressed as 'Miss Leyland'. 2

On 3 June 1872, Whistler's mother, Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), wrote to her sister:

'This early morning was bright & summer like & to my surprise when Jemie came in from his boating on the river to breakfast Fannie Leyland came with him, in her riding habit, whip in hand, her groom & horse at our gate, she is a lively girl of 14 & had after their earlier breakfast come by her Mamas persuasion this short ride before her beginning study, she had been in the boat on the river with Jemie … Jemie is to dine at the Leylands, but I fear will be late, for he has taken up his brush (in his best coat &c! & to paint is more beguiling than any thing else with him. ... Jemie seldom goes anywhere but as the escort of the Leylands, as Mr L has to be in Liverpool much, he is like a brother in the family circle.' 3

Whistler was painting portraits of the younger sisters, Elinor Leyland (1861-1952) and Florence Leyland (1859-1921), at Speke Hall in May 1875, and he planned to paint portraits – but he does not specify whose – later in September/October. 4


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 109).

2: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 1, p. 175.

3: Letter to C. J. Palmer, GUW #09938.

4: A. M. Whistler to F. Leyland, 12 May [1875], GUW #08181; Whistler to F. Leyland, [18/25 September 1875], GUW #08053.

Last updated: 3rd December 2019 by Margaret