Several possible titles have been suggested:
Whistler said (in a letter that may not have been sent to the sitter) that he dropped the name of Lady Archibald from the title because the Duke and the family did not approve of the portrait:
'With the sensitiveness of the gentle artist, upon the verdict of the Duke, if you remember, I immediately withdrew your name, and the picture was exhibited under the title of "Le Brodequin jaune" in Paris. Under this name, and not as the Portrait of the Lady Archibald Campbell, it brought the painter his red Ribbon. - his gold medal in Münich [sic], and other distinctions - Finally under the Alias of the "Yellow Buskin" it was bought by the Academy of Philadelphia for twelve hundred guineas.' 14
According to Duret, Whistler changed the title 'd'après la chaussure du pied en mouvement.' 15
'Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune – Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell' is the preferred title, despite the museum preferring to translate it as 'Arrangement in Black (The Lady in the Yellow Buskin)'.
The 'Arrangements in Black' are inconsistently numbered, roughly as follows:
A full length portrait of a woman in vertical format. She stands in profile to left, looking back towards the viewer. She wears a dark blue-grey costume and brown fur cape, and is pulling on yellow gloves. She stands on a beige floor that shades into a black background. She wears a yellow-tan high heeled shoe, and appears to be about to step away.
Janey Sevilla Campbell (Lady Archibald Campbell) (ca 1846-d.1923) .
This was the third full-length portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell by Whistler, and the only one to be completed and to survive (see Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell in Court Dress [YMSM 240], The Grey Lady: Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell [YMSM 241]).
In the 1880s Lady Archie became involved with dress revival and reform through her friendship with Edward William Godwin (1833-1886), architect, designer and close friend of Whistler (in 1884, the year Lady Archie and Godwin began their collaboration, Godwin published Dress and its Relation to Health and Climate).
The costume worn by Lady Archibald Campbell have been discussed in detail by Aileen Ribeiro, Helen M. Burnham and Anna Gruetzner Robins, among others; Ribeiro described the 'tailored woolen costume, the skirt wrapping and glossy furs [as] very much a fad of the late nineteenth century'. 17 Burnham discusses the costume further:
'The skirt’s weighty wool, loosely pleated style, short hemline, and tie-back over the hips are features of the “tailor-made.” This type of clothing, incorporating details from men’s apparel, has its origins in the riding habits created for wealthy ladies by men’s tailors from the seventeenth century on and would have been worn primarily by upper- and upper-middle class women in the 1880s. The fur cape and toque, which appear to be of beaver or sable, were also adapted from men’s coachwear as jaunty overgarments for everyday use. The tailor-made enables the mobility suggested by her kinetic pose, while the accessories – particularly the historicizing "brodequin jaune" with its Louis XV heel and archaic name – link Lady Archie to the vanguard of fashion.' 18
Anna Robins comments that the portrait was 'a modern image of a modern woman':
'If he had painted his portraits a decade later his sitters might have been New Women but in the 1880s this category was still in its infancy. Although none of these portraits depict their subjects in the public realm, they signal them as New Women through costume, deportment and occupation. Thus they serve both as portraits of individuals and as a collective image of the New Woman.' 19
3: Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, 103rd exhibition, Salon de la Société des artistes français, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1885 (cat. no. 2459).
5: III. Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung, Königlicher Glaspalast, Munich, 1888.
6: Exposition Universelle, Champs de Mars, Paris, 1889, British section (cat. no. 165).
7: Tentoonstelling van Kunstwerken van Levende Meesters, Amsterdam, 1889 (cat. no. 469).
8: Nocturnes, Marines & Chevalet Pieces, Goupil Gallery, London, 1892 (cat. no. 41).
10: World's Columbian Exposition, Department of Fine Arts, Chicago, 1893 (cat. no. 758).
11: Sixty-third Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1893 (cat. no. 35).
Last updated: 8th June 2021 by Margaret