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

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Study of Draped Figures

Titles

Whistler's original title is not known. Only one title is known:

  • 'Study of Draped Figures' (1936, University of Glasgow). 1
  • 'Study of Draped Figures' (1980, YMSM). 2

Description


                    Study of Draped Figures, The Hunterian
Study of Draped Figures, The Hunterian

A figure composition in horizontal format, showing three women on a balcony overlooking a river: the woman at left, seated on a couch, bends to her left, towards the woman standing to right. At far right, a woman stands leaning on the railing looking left over the river. The seated woman has a grey robe over a white dress, and the central figure is similarly dressed. The woman at right has a peach-coloured robe over a white dress. Across the river are the grey shapes of buildings. The picture is unfinished at right.

Site

The river Thames as seen from Whistler's house in Lindsey Row, Chelsea, London.

Sitter

The models have not been identified.


                    Study of Draped Figures, The Hunterian
Study of Draped Figures, The Hunterian

                    Whistler in his studio, Art Institute of Chicago
Whistler in his studio, Art Institute of Chicago

The pale peach-pink kimono worn by the central model in two studio compositions (The Artist's Studio [YMSM 062] and Whistler in his Studio [YMSM 063], reproduced above) is seen again on the right in Study of Draped Figures. Whistler referred to her as 'la Japonaise'. 3 She may also be the woman lying down in Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony [YMSM 056]; however, in no instance are her features clear.

Comments

The Hunterian website draws attention to the links between Whistler's work at this period and that of Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893):

'The theme of idealised women, draped in loose robes, and set on a balcony - a subject without a specific narrative or locale - preoccupied Whistler in the mid 1860s. This study is reminiscent of oil sketches by his friend, the artist Albert Moore ... Both drew inspiration from Japan and from the delicate beauty of Greek terracotta figures of the Hellenistic period from Tanagra, though Moore's finished oil paintings were more finely detailed than Whistler's.' 4

Notes:

1: James McNeill Whistler, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, 1936 (cat. no. 38).

2: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 58).

3: Whistler to H. Fantin-Latour, 16 August [1865], GUW #01147.

4: The Hunterian website at http://collections.gla.ac.uk.

Last updated: 20th October 2020 by Margaret