It has been suggested that Sketch of Miss Ethel Philip was a study for Red and Black: The Fan [YMSM 388]. However, although it is true that the pose of her head is similar, and there are signs that she was originally wearing a hat, the brushwork is very different and suggests it (the 'Sketch') is a later work.
It is painted on a plain open-weave tabby canvas, primed in grey, possibly over an off-white commercial preparation. The face was painted thinly, and dryly, and left unfinished. There are signs above and to right of her head that suggest she originally posed wearing a hat. The paint is extremely thin on the background, barely rubbed in. Short strokes and blobs of thin paint roughly define the planes and lights on the face.
The painting has not been varnished, and is somewhat dirty. The canvas is unlined (which is comparatively unusual in Whistler's oeuvre) and has become brittle. 1
59.2 x 39.4 x 3.6 cm.
1: Condition report by Clare Meredith, 5 April 2001, Hunterian files.
Last updated: 2nd November 2020 by Margaret