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

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The Blue Girl: Maud Franklin

The Blue Girl: Maud Franklin probably dates from between 1874 and 1879. 1

Maud Franklin (1857-1939) first posed for Whistler in the place of Frances Leyland (1834-1910) for Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland [YMSM 106], possibly as early as 1872, but more likely in 1873-1874. The Blue Girl: Maud Franklin may have been painted after 1874.

It is possible that Arrangement in Blue and Green [YMSM 193], which was exhibited in 1878, and The Blue Girl: Maud Franklin [YMSM 112] are the same painting. No surviving portrait appears to correspond to the descriptions given.

At least two 'Blue Girls' (The Blue Girl: Portrait of Miss Elinor Leyland [YMSM 111] and The Blue Girl: Maud Franklin [YMSM 112]) were defaced by Whistler at the time of his bankruptcy, so that they would not fall into the hands of his creditors. One was in the house of Whistler's brother William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900) in Wimpole Street in 1880, but it is not known what happened to it thereafter. 2

Whistler may well have worked on the painting of Maud Franklin again, because, according to the Pennells, she posed to Whistler for 'the old scheme of "blue upon blue" ' before 1882. 3


1: Dated 1870/1879 in YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 112).

2: Whistler to H. E. Whistler, [March 1880], GUW #06689.

3: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 1, p. 303.

Last updated: 3rd December 2019 by Margaret