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

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Portrait of Mrs Lewis Jarvis

Portrait of Mrs Lewis Jarvis dates from 1879. 1

According to Houfe, Whistler borrowed £50.0.0 from Lewis Page Jarvis (1845-1900) in the summer of 1879 and agreed to paint his wife, Ada Maud Jarvis (1850-1919). 2 The portrait was started in the late summer at the White House in Tite Street, and Whistler wrote to Mrs Jarvis on 16 August 1879, 'I shall be quite prepared for you today at 3 o'clock if convenient to you.' 3

                Portrait of Mrs Lewis Jarvis, Smith College Museum of Art
Portrait of Mrs Lewis Jarvis, Smith College Museum of Art

Whistler visited them at their country house at Blunham near Bedford that autumn and was consulted on colours for the interior decoration; meanwhile the portrait was completed, framed, and sent to Mrs Jarvis in September 1879, 'The little head ought to have been far away more charming - but I did my best at the time which I am afraid was very poor.' 4


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 206).

2: Houfe 1973 [more] .

3: [16 August 1879], GUW #09172.

4: Whistler to Mrs Jarvis, [6 September 1879], GUW #09170.

Last updated: 21st October 2020 by Margaret