Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden was started in 1894 and continued in the following year. 1
According to the artist, the portrait of was 'all but finished' by 14 February 1894. 3 Her husband, William Eden (1849-1915), sent Whistler a cheque, which Whistler eventually returned, retaining the picture.
1895: The portrait was continued in 1895, with a new sitter, Margaret Curzon Hale, Mrs H. D. Hale (1872-1948). John Mead Howells (1848-1859) wrote on 11 January 1895, 'I have just dined with Mrs Bert Hale & had long accounts of the portrait.' 4 In March Whistler stated that 'Of the picture now seen the whole surface is new - no hundre[d]th part of an inch ... of the old & disputed portrait remaining!' 5
1899: Eden took Whistler to law, in an attempt to obtain the portrait. Finally, Whistler worked on the painting again, attempting to completely remove Lady Eden's image before the picture was presented in court in November 1899, but, he admitted, 'the more I scrape off, the more the original comes through! and I don't think the whole thing ever looked so like Lady Eden before!' 6
The court case was described from Whistler's side in his book Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly published in 1899. For Whistler the central issue was that on which his appeal was won, namely that an artist and a patron do not enter into an ordinary contract of sale. The artist must be free to withhold a work with which he is dissatisfied, although accepting liability to restore fees paid in advance and to make good his patron's expenses.
Whistler's designs for Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly, dating from 1899, include a number of exuberant butterflies, such as r.: Butterfly for 'Noblesse abuse'; v.: tail [M.1550], and for a triumphant conclusion, Two butterflies on tricolour flags among the clouds [M.1558].
Last updated: 21st November 2020 by Margaret