Arrangement in Violet and Pink: Mrs Walter Sickert dates from between 1885 and 1887. 1
1885: The sitter's husband Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) commissioned a portrait of his wife, Ellen 'Nellie' Millicent Ashburner Cobden, Mrs W. R. Sickert (1848-1914). However, shortly afterwards he was in serious need of money and asked Whistler to let him have back the deposit:
'I want you if you can to let me have back the balance of £25 which you have on account for Nellie's portrait for a while. Of course whenever you can arrange to paint it & care to do so, we will make arrangements in good time to sell out & let you have the complete £100.' 2
1885-1886: Mrs Sickert sat to Whistler on 23 December 1885, and then there was a long delay (the Sickerts went abroad on 21 July 1886) but she suggested further sittings in December 1886. 3 It is, however, not entirely clear whether the sittings were for this portrait or for Green and Violet: Portrait of Mrs Walter Sickert [YMSM 338].
1887: Arrangement in Violet and Pink: Mrs Walter Sickert was probably completed in October 1887, when Sickert sent Whistler a final cheque:
'I enclose a cheque for £42. 10. the balance for Nellie's portrait.
Of course it is impossible to thank you at all for doing us such a work. We shall always look upon it as practically a magnificent present. ... certainly the moneys are ludicrous, & bear no sort of proportion to the value of the work.
… Will you also tell your framemaker to send me in his bill for the frame.' 4
It was exhibited at the 64th Annual Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887 (cat. no. 157) as 'Arrangement in violet and pink. (Portrait of Mrs. Walter Sickert)'.
Last updated: 12th November 2020 by Margaret