Portrait of Richard A. Canfield dates from 1901 to 1903. 1
1901: In March, Richard Albert Canfield (1855-1914) enquired through an intermediary about the possibility of acquiring a painting. 2 On 20 July Canfield sent Whistler a cheque for £500 on account for 'two works ... important in size' leaving the subjects 'to your own decision.' 3
1902: Canﬁeld started to pose at the beginning of March 1902. 4 In April Canfield sent a second cheque ‘for certain pictures not completed’, which Whistler returned, saying:
'You have seen that the work is all absorbing - and indeed I myself, find the difficulties in the brush quite sufficient in themselves, without allowing them to become complicated with anything distantly resembling responsibility of any kind! ...
I think it will not be at all difficult for you, who have so far shown such ready understanding, to see, with me, that this is as much of a link with business as I can stand in the midst of incompleted work.' 5
1903: according to Gardiner, Canﬁeld returned to Europe to sit for Whistler at the New Year and posed every day until 16 May 1903, when he sailed for New York. 8 Whistler was certainly working on the portrait during January and February, and on 16 February, for instance, Whistler suggested a sitting for the following day, saying 'we might see if "his Reverence" were in a good humour?!' 9 On 28 February Whistler suggested that the art dealer William Stephen Marchant (1868-1925) could arrange 'the departure of the picture.' 10 Sittings continued, despite delays when Whistler was too ill; 'we must not spoil things through haste' he wrote, adding, ' "His Reverence" moreover only gains by being left alone!' 11 However, the artist died before the painting could be completed.
8: Gardiner, Alexander, Canfield : The True Story of the Greatest Gambler, New York, 1930, pp. 127, 229-32, 234-37.
Last updated: 19th October 2020 by Margaret