Whistler having said that he intended to 'put on a few touches' in 1891, it was described as 'unfinished' in 1905 and later by the sitter, but it is no more unfinished than a lot of Whistler's late portraits, such as Portrait of Miss Lilian Woakes [YMSM 393].
It is painted very fluidly with small brushes, 3 mm (1/8") on the head, and 5 mm (3/16") on the skirt. Because it was not varnished until a considerable time after being painted, the paint sank in and the original light colours became more sultry.
Unknown. Andrew McLaren Young (1913-1975) commented when he saw it about 1975 that it was very dirty, with discoloured varnish. There are still traces of old varnish, minor abrasions, repairs and retouching. It is, however, very dark.
The frame is not the original; it was imitated by the Leicester Galleries; however, the original backboard bears labels confirming ownership and exhibitions. 1
1: Peter Nahum, Leicester Galleries at http://www.leicestergalleries.com/19th-20th-century-paintings/d/james-abbott-mcneill-whistler/12691 (acc. 2017).
Last updated: 16th October 2020 by Margaret