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

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La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine

La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine is signed and dated 'Whistler 1864', but work on it was probably started in 1863 and ended in 1865.

La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine, Freer Gallery of Art
La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine, Freer Gallery of Art

1863-1864: The model, Christine Spartali, Countess Edmond de Cahen (1846–1884) posed for Whistler, according to her sister Marie Spartali (Mrs W. J. Stillman) (1844-1927), twice a week in the winter of 1863-1864. 1

1864: In August Whistler and Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) told Edwin Edwards (1823-1879) that they were 'working hard and are most anxious to get through these two pictures.' 2 Whistler's picture could have been Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl [YMSM 052] or the La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine. Whistler definitely worked on the latter, according to George Du Maurier (1834-1896), in October 1864. 3

1864/1865: Whistler wrote to Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) regarding this painting or Symphony in White, No. 3 [YMSM 061]: 'Will you lend me one of your Chinese blue and white rugs - The same that you once before lent me - I just want it for my picture - I think it used to be on one of the stands in the China room.' 4

1865: Whistler told Fantin-Latour, 'la Japonaise me prend depuis le matin au Soir - Elle a été mise de coté jusquà present à cause de maladie du model - Ca va être bien je crois.' (Translation: 'the Japanese woman is taking me from morning to the evening - She was put aside until now because the model was unwell - I think she will be good.'). 5 Whistler worked on La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine in early March 1865, with the intention of sending it to the Salon. 6 It was first exhibited at the 83rd exhibition, Salon de 1865, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1865 (cat. no. 2220) as 'La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine'.

The Peacock Room with La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine, Freer Gallery of Art
The Peacock Room with La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine, Freer Gallery of Art

1876: It is possible Whistler worked on it again in 1876, when it was seen in Whistler's studio, and before it was hung in Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room [YMSM 178]. 7

Notes:

1: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 1, pp. 122-25.

2: Whistler to Edwin Edwards, [9 August 1864], GUW #09083.

3: Du Maurier 1951 [more], p. 244.

4: [1864/1865], GUW #09393.

5: [February/March 1865], GUW #08040.

6: Fantin-Latour to Edwin Edwards, 2 March 1865, copy in Bibliothèque Municipale, Grenoble.

7: New York Herald, 10 April 1876; see also Whistler's letter to F. R. Leyland, [April 1876], GW #02568.

Last updated: 19th July 2018 by Margaret