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

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Lillie: An Oval

Lillie: An Oval was painted at Whistler's Fitzroy Street studio in London at some time after 1896, according to a note on the verso, written by Harold Wright (1885-1961), and recording information from Whistler's sister-in-law, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958). 1

Whistler took the studio at 8 Fitzroy Street in February 1896 and it was redecorated and ready for use by May. He owned the studio until his death. Thus this portrait was painted between May 1896 and 1903, or more likely, like other portraits of the model, Lilian ('Lily') Pamington (b. 1887/1888), after 1899.

Head and shoulders of a girl, 21 July 1900, GUL MS Whistler C71
Head and shoulders of a girl, 21 July 1900, GUL MS Whistler C71

She is said to have first posed in 1898 or 1899, and was certainly posing in 1900 and 1901. The drawing reproduced above was dated 21 July 1900. Furthermore, portraits of her were completed and exhibited over several years: Brown and Gold: Lillie 'In our Alley!' [YMSM 464] was exhibited in 1899, The Golden Lily [YMSM 542] in 1901 and Grenat et or: Le Petit Cardinal [YMSM 469] in 1902. A date between 1900 and 1901 is suggested by the similarity of Lillie: An Oval to these and other portraits of this period, particularly The Little Red Glove [YMSM 468], which was being painted in 1902.


1: Dated 'after 1896' in YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 465).

Last updated: 21st November 2020 by Margaret