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

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Portrait of Lady Redesdale

Portrait of Lady Redesdale dates from between 1876 and 1878. 1

According to the Pennells, writing of the period about 1876,

'Lord Redesdale tells us of a beautiful full-length of his wife in draperies of Chinese blue silk Whistler called "fair", which was his word then for everything he liked. But it was a difficult moment, men were in possession at No. 2 Lindsey Row, and, rather than risk its falling into their hands, he slashed the canvas to pieces. The debt was small, some thirty pounds or so, and the price agreed upon for the portrait was two hundred guineas.' 2

Lord Algernon B. Redesdale (1837-1916) wrote

'On one occasion, I went to see him and found him boiling over with anger surrounded by masterpieces which he had just cut to ribbons in a storm of mad fury lest they should fall into the hands of the bailiffs, and all for a miserable debt of thirty pounds, which, for the moment, he was unable to pay ... The blow hit me cruelly, for he had just finished a beautiful portrait of my wife.' 3

Both Portrait of Lord Redesdale [YMSM 188] and Portrait of Lady Redesdale [YMSM 189] were destroyed at the time of Whistler's bankruptcy.


1: Dated 'about 1876' in YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 189).

2: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 1, p. 201.

3: Redesdale, Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford Memories, London, 1915, vol. 2, p. 646.

Last updated: 12th November 2019 by Margaret