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

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Violet and Rose: Carmen qui rit

Violet and Rose: Carmen qui rit dates from between 1898 and 1899.

In September 1898 the artist Gwen John – Gwen Salmond (1877-1958) – then a student at the Académie Carmen in Paris, wrote that Whistler was 'going to paint a picture of Madame la Patronne ... and hang it in the studio for the students to learn from.' 1 'Madame la Patronne was Carmen Rossi (fl. 1880/1901). The result may have been this painting or Harmony in Rose and Green: Carmen [YMSM 507].

It was painted in Paris about 1898, according to a note on the back written by the art dealer Harold Wright (1885-1961), on information from Whistler's sister-in-law Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958).

This is partially confirmed by a letter written on 28 October 1898 by Whistler to Miss Birnie Philip, 'I want you to drive over to Chapuis ... and say that Monsieur hopes he is getting on all right with the two ovals - and his frames - Ask when I am to have them.' 2 The frame was indeed made by the Paris frame-maker Claude Chapuis (1829-1908).


                Violet and Rose: Carmen qui rit, The Hunterian
Violet and Rose: Carmen qui rit, The Hunterian

Violet and Rose: Carmen qui rit [YMSM 506] and Harmony in Rose and Green: Carmen [YMSM 507] date from about the same period as some other oval portraits by Whistler such as A Paris Model [YMSM 458].

It may have been completed in 1899 and was first shown at the 2nd Exhibition, Pictures, Drawings, Prints and Sculptures, International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, London, 1899 (cat. no. 133).

Notes:

1: Holroyd, Michael, Augustus John: A Biography, I : The Years of Innocence, London, 1974, vol. 1, p. 88.

2: [28 October 1898], GUW #04743.

Last updated: 21st November 2020 by Margaret