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

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Eve probably dates from 1898, and possibly 1899. 1

On 1 February 1898 Whistler wrote from Paris to William Heinemann (1863-1920), saying that he had painted 'an Eve':

'I sit in the studio and could almost laugh at the extraordinary progress I am making and the lovely things I am inventing! - I have now in the studio a Phryne - a Dannae - an Eve - an Odalisque - and a Bathsheba ... I must not allow small ordinary considerations of Exhibition ... to interfere with work of this character which I always looked forward to and was sure would one of these days announce itself - bursting forth suddenly as the result of much preparation! All these inventions are since you left me the other day!' 2

According to the Pennells, Whistler intended, after painting Purple and Gold: Phryne the Superb! - Builder of Temples [YMSM 490],

'to paint an Eve, an Odalisque, a Bathsheba, and a Danae, all on a very large scale. He at one time arranged that his sketches for the designs should be set up on the canvas by his apprentices, Mr and Mrs Clifford Addams, but this was another of his unrealised plans. Suggestions for the paintings were in the little pastels of undraped or slightly draped figures, for which he found the perfect model in London.' 3

It is not certain that this was the same painting that was in London in December 1899 when Whistler asked his sister-in-law Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) to send a painting of 'a sort of Eve', through Goupil's to him in Paris, 'a nude figure begun from Lillie Pettigrew - a sort of Eve with an Apple in her hand - send it in her frame - Indeed while you are about it, there are two pictures similar in shape from the Lillie in their new frames - may as well both come.' 4

Lilian Pettigrew (b. 1870) posed for Whistler in London about 1895 for the Portrait Study of Lily Pettigrew [YMSM 434], but may also have posed later. She is unlikely to have posed in Paris, however.


1: Dated 'about 1898/1902' in YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 491).

2: Whistler to W. Heinemann, [31 January 1898], GUW #10803.

3: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 2, p. 206.

4: GUW #04764.

Last updated: 30th October 2019 by Margaret