The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 094
Portrait of Maud Franklin

Portrait of Maud Franklin

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1874/1875
Collection: Whereabouts Unknown
Accession Number: none
Medium: oil
Support: canvas
Size: unknown, ca 191 x 90 cm (75 x 35 ½")
Signature: butterfly
Inscription: none
Frame: unknown

Date

Portrait of Maud Franklin may have been started about 1874 and destroyed by Whistler at the time of his bankruptcy in 1879. 1

1870/1873: It has been suggested that this painting could date from as early as 1870. However, in 1870, the model, Maud Franklin (1857-1939), would have been 13, and she looks older than that.

1873/1874: The style of the butterfly suggests a date about 1873/1874. The rectangular field on which Whistler has placed his butterfly is rare on Whistler's portraits although common on his Nocturnes of the early 1870s. However, dating by butterfly is not an exact science.

Portrait of Maud Franklin , photograph, Library of Congress
Portrait of Maud Franklin , photograph, Library of Congress

1874/1875: This date would be fairly consistent with the dress, making some allowance for dress-maker's and painter's license. It would also fit with Maud Franklin's known association with Whistler.

Images

Portrait of Maud Franklin, photograph, Library of Congress
Portrait of Maud Franklin, photograph, Library of Congress

Subject

Titles

Only one descriptive title has been suggested:

Description

Portrait of Maud Franklin, photograph, Library of Congress
Portrait of Maud Franklin, photograph, Library of Congress

A full length portrait of a woman, in vertical format. Her dress appears to have been white or very pale in colour, narrow fitting, with ruffles around the low neck-line, gauzy three-quarter length sleeves, and a skirt with a broad gathered or pleated hem that spreads out behind her at the left. She is standing slightly turned to her left, with her head tilted, looking to her right. The background is plain and dark.

Sitter

The painting shows Maud Franklin (1857-1939) standing. This is probably the earliest portrait of Maud, although she may have posed for Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland y106 about the same time.

She posed to Whistler for many of his most beautiful prints and paintings, including Harmony in Grey and Peach Colour y131, Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket y181, Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans y183, Arrangement in White and Black y185, and Harmony in Pink and Red y192.

Technique

Technique

Portrait of Maud Franklin, photograph, Library of Congress
Portrait of Maud Franklin, photograph, Library of Congress

The photograph reproduced by the Pennells is the sole record of this painting. 3 The photograph gives the proportions for the canvas. Assuming it to have been life-size, these proportions would correspond to a canvas of ca 191 x 90 cm (75 x 35 ½").

It was very freely painted with thin paint and a broad brush. The paint has actually dripped over the skirt on her hip at right.

Conservation History

It was probably destroyed by the artist. There appear to be several long diagonal; scratches at right. It may have been destroyed at the time of Whistler's bankruptcy in 1879.

Frame

Unknown.

History

Provenance

Unknown.

Exhibitions

Unknown.

Bibliography

Catalogues Raisonnés

Authored by Whistler

Catalogues 1855-1905

Journals 1855-1905

Monographs

Books on Whistler

Books, General

Catalogues 1906-Present

Journals 1906-Present

Websites

Unpublished

Other


Notes:

1: 'Probably painted about 1870/73', according to YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 94).

2: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 94).

3: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 2, repr. f.p. 24.