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

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The Jade Necklace


  • 1903: in Whistler's studio at his death, and bequeathed to his ward and executrix, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958);
  • 1958: bequeathed by Miss R. Birnie Philip to the University of Glasgow.


  • 1900: 10th exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, London, 1900 (cat. no. 5) as 'Green and Gold. The Lady of the Black Heart'.
  • 1905: Œuvres de James McNeill Whistler, Palais de l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1905 (cat. no. 34) as 'The Jade Necklace'.

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

It was shown at the Society of Portrait Painters in 1900 with the unusually emotive title of 'Green and Gold. The Lady of the Black Heart'. The Pall Mall Gazette was critical: 'We have said that great names do themselves no conspicuous honour. So it is in the case Mr. Whistler, whose Lady of the Black Heart — a long head on a green background surmounting chalk-white dress (admirably painted) — is strangely awry.' 1 The Scotsman described it as 'an unpleasant study of a lady, who may be called cold and repellant, seeing that the painter describes her as "of the Black Heart." ' 2 Another Scottish paper interpreted the title more correctly, referencing the costume: it was described by the Aberdeen Free Press on 16 November 1900: 'the background is green and the frame gilt ... the lady is the artist's sister-in-law ... Her white jacket is open at the neck, and there a black garment is shown ... her eyes and her hair are dark.' This press cutting was annotated by the sitter, 'This picture was worked on; became entitled "collar de Jade".' 3 It may be that the less flattering interpretation inspired the change in title and dress.


1: 'The Portrait Painters', Pall Mall Gazette, London, 17 November 1900, pp. 4-5.

2: Anon., 'The Society of Portrait Painters …', The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 14 November 1900, p. 9.

3: GUL Whistler PC 14.

Last updated: 19th April 2021 by Margaret