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

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Little Lizzie Willis

Little Lizzie Willis dates from 1896 or 1897. 1 Whistler painted Lizzie Willis, the daughter of his housekeeper at 8 Fitzroy Street, about 1896, according to Harold Wright (1885-1961), probably on information provided by the artist's sister-in-law, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958). 2 Lizzie is mentioned in Whistler's letters in 1897, when her mother was housekeeper for the artist at 8 Fitzroy Street. 3

Little Lizzie Willis, The Hunterian
Little Lizzie Willis, The Hunterian

In December 1899 Whistler told Miss Birnie Philip to ask the Goupil Gallery in London to send two portraits of Lizzie to him in Paris, 'you had better send over the little Lizzie - there are two - the old black one, and a rather fair one barely begun.' 4 It is likely that this is the 'fair one' and unlikely that he worked on it further.


1: Dated 'about 1896' in YMSM 1980 [more], cat. no. 476.

2: Inscription on the verso of the stretcher.

3: i.e., Whistler to R. Birnie Philip, [16 January 1897], and [24 June 1897], GUW #04698 and #04711.

4: [13/15 December 1899], GUW #04764.

Last updated: 22nd October 2020 by Margaret