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

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Miss Rosalind Birnie Philip Standing

The portrait, Miss Rosalind Birnie Philip Standing, dates from between 1896 and 1898.


                Miss Rosalind Birnie Philip Standing, The Hunterian
Miss Rosalind Birnie Philip Standing, The Hunterian

1896: The sitter, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) appears to be dressed in deep mourning. Her elder sister, Whistler's wife, Beatrice Philip (Mrs E. W. Godwin, Mrs J. McN. Whistler) (1857-1896) had died on 10 May 1896, and mourning black could well have been worn by her sisters for at least a year. The costume, with "leg o'mutton" sleeves, suggests a date of 1896/1897. It is close in technique and colouring to Rose and Brown: The Philosopher [YMSM 472], which was painted in 1896/1897.

1897: According to a label on the verso written by Harold Wright (1885-1961), almost certainly from information provided by the sitter, Miss Birnie Philip, it was painted in Paris about 1897. Whistler was certainly in Paris in May 1897, and wrote to Miss Birnie Philip when he returned alone London, 'I have been so prettily spoiled by all of you - and shall so miss your own untiring care.' 1 This is the most likely date of the painting. They were both back in Paris in November but Whistler was then absorbed in legal affairs.

1898: In January, David Croal Thomson (1855-1930) was asked to send paintings, possibly including this portrait, from the London studio to Whistler in Paris. 2 Thomson then told Arthur Jerome Eddy (1859-1920), that Whistler was working on two portraits of Miss Birnie Philip. 3

1902: According to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), a painting of 'Miss Phillip [sic]/ Paris' was in Whistler's studio in London in 1902. 4

Notes:

1: [6 June 1897], GUW #04706.

2: Whistler to D. C. Thomson, 15 January 1898, GUW #05830.

3: Reported by Eddy to Whistler, 1 March 1898, GUW #01029.

4: [1902], Freer Diaries, Bk 12, Freer Gallery of Art.

Last updated: 25th November 2020 by Margaret