The Grey Lady: Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell dates from between 1881 and 1882. 1
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) wrote to Whistler, in June 1882, 'And the Moon-Lady, the Grey Lady, the beautiful wraith with her beryl eyes, our Lady Archie, how is she?' 2 However, it is not entirely clear if he is talking about the woman or her portrait.
In a letter to Théodore Duret (1838-1927), which dates from about 1881/1882, Whistler wrote 'demain j'ai une séance pour le portrait de la grande dame en gris que vous avez vu commencer.' 3 Duret was introduced to Whistler in November 1880 and was certainly in London in February-April 1881, when it is likely the portrait was started.
The Pennells imply that The Grey Lady: Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell [YMSM 241] was painted around the same time as Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell in Court Dress [YMSM 240] and Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell [YMSM 242] in about 1882, and quote a letter from the sitter in which she stated,
'A picture which he called The Grey Lady was a harmony in silver greys ...The picture was almost completed, when my absence from town prevented a continuance of the sittings ... When I saw him very shortly before his death, I remember asking after The Grey Lady. He laughed, and said he had destroyed her.' 4
This was the second portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (see Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell in Court Dress [YMSM 240]) that Whistler abandoned (see also Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell [YMSM 242]).
Last updated: 8th November 2019 by Margaret