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

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Portrait of a Girl

Portrait of a Girl dates from 1879/1880. 1

According to the American artist William Graham (1841-1910), who lent Whistler his studio in Venice 1879/80 when he was painting Portrait of a Boy [YMSM 211], he found among a heap of debris in his studio a 'piece of heavy stiff paste-board', which he cut in two, and found on the larger square a picture, and 'I was soon engaged with a sponge and a little water, in disclosing from its strata of dust, a Whistler: A freckled faced, red headed girl'. A few days later an artist friend of Graham's said he remembered that one day when he and three others were working from the model in Graham's studio, Whistler entered and said, 'That girl has got a nice head: I would like to have a try at it', and being provided with material, he worked with the others until lunch time. 2


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 214).

2: Reminiscences sent to C. L. Freer, 3 March 1908, Freer Gallery Archives.

Last updated: 10th November 2019 by Margaret