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

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Harmony in Blue and Gold


One title has been suggested:

  • 'Harmony in Blue and Gold' (1886, Society of British Artists). 1
  • 'Harmony in Blue and Gold' (1980, YMSM). 2


It was described by 'Megilp' in 1879 as 'a young lady, with yellowish drapery leaning over a balcony.' 3 It was described by the Art Journal in 1886 as 'a study of a single figure lightly draped', 4 and, more fully, by The Era as 'a girl whose form is draped, but not concealed, in blue gauze, leaning against a yellow balustrade with her back to the sea and her head set against a large yellow parasol.' 5

Sketch of 'Harmony in Blue and Gold', Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Sketch of 'Harmony in Blue and Gold', Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

Whistler made a pen drawing of the oil painting, Sketch of 'Harmony in Blue and Gold' [M.1095], in 1886, signed with a butterfly, which was published in the Pall Mall Gazette. It shows a draped figure standing, with legs crossed, leaning back on a balcony, and holding in her right hand a large parasol, the handle resting on her shoulder and the parasol framing her head. She stands on a chequered pavement.

A nude girl with a parasol, The Hunterian
A nude girl with a parasol, The Hunterian

This is the only certain record of the oil, although the watercolour reproduced above, A nude girl with a parasol [M.1094], with a colour scheme of blue and gold, may be related to it.

It may also relate to designs in pastel, dating from 1872-1873, for a mosaic called by Whistler 'The Gold Girl', which was intended for the South Kensington Museum, but never realised. These designs – r.: A Japanese Woman; v.: Girl with parasol [M.0458], A Chinese lady with a parasol [M.0459], and Gold Girl [M.0461] – show a woman in Oriental robes, with a parasol.




1: Sixty-third Annual Exhibition, Society of British Artists, London, 1886 (cat. no. 298).

2: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 197.

3: Megilp 1879a [more].

4: Art Journal July 1886 [more].

5: 'Spring Picture Shows', The Era, London, 1 May 1886, p. 13.

Last updated: 15th November 2020 by Margaret