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

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The Jade Necklace

1896: The Jade Necklace was painted in Whistler's Fitzroy Street studio in 1896, possibly worked on in subsequent years, and again reworked after exhibition in 1900, according to a note on the back by Harold Wright (1885-1961); he was probably recording information provided by the sitter, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958).

1898: It may have been one of the two portraits of Miss Birnie Philip on which David Croal Thomson (1855-1930) said Whistler was working early in 1898. 1

1899: Whistler postponed sittings for a portrait of Miss Birnie Philip, probably this one, and proposed to continue in London early in 1900. 2

1900: After being exhibited at the Society of Portrait Painters, Whistler continued to work on the picture, according to the sitter; on 30 November Whistler asked her to come and pose, 'Bring your white jacket ... with the "black heart".' 3

The Jade Necklace, The Hunterian
The Jade Necklace, The Hunterian

The white jacket was replaced with a black dress and/or jacket, and the sitter wore a jade necklace.

1901: There is no record of further sittings, but it is quite possible Whistler continued to work on it, as Harold Wright recorded.


1: Mentioned by A. J. Eddy to Whistler, 1 March 1898, GUW #01029.

2: Whistler to R. Birnie Philip, [December 1899], GUW #04764.

3: GUL Whistler PC 14/; Whistler to R. Birnie Philip, 30 November 1900, GUW #04781.

Last updated: 19th April 2021 by Margaret