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

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Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans

Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans dates from some time between 1876 and 1879, and may also have been worked on later. 1

According to the Pennells, it was begun in 1876 from the model, Maud Franklin (1857-ca 1941). 2

However, a date in 1876, 1877, or 1879 is possible, during one of Maud Franklin's pregnancies. She had two children: Ione, born on 15 October, possibly in 1876 or 1877, and Maud McNeill Whistler Franklin (b. 1879), born on 13 February 1879. The title of the picture, with its reference to Effie Deans, the unmarried mother and heroine of Sir Walter Scott's novel Heart of Midlothian, reinforces the link with Maud Franklin's illegitimate children. 3

Whistler petitioned to be declared bankrupt in January 1879 and was declared 'insolvent' on 6 May 1879. It is not known what happened to 'Effie Deans' at that time, but it was probably deposited with the London printsellers H. Graves & Co. It was first exhibited in the International Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1886 (cat. no. 1412) as 'Effie Deans'.

Photographs record different stages in the development of 'Effie Deans', possibly at intervals from 1879 to 1889. A photograph from Whistler's estate, in Glasgow University Library, shows the painting before the signature and inscription were added. 4 Another, in the G. A. Lucas Collection, Baltimore Museum of Art, is signed with a butterfly that can be dated about 1881, and is inscribed by Whistler 'Arrangement in Grey & Yellow', and shows the painting in a later state. Moreover, comparing this with the present state of Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans, it appears that Whistler worked on it after the Lucas photograph was taken.

                Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans, Rijksmuseum
Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans, Rijksmuseum

It was exhibited in Derde Tentoonstelling der Nederlandsche Etsclub, Amsterdam, 1889 and bought by Reinhard Boelens, Baron van Lynden (1827-1896); according to the Pennells, it was signed at the owner's request on Whistler's trip to Holland in that year, and probably inscribed by him at the same time. 5


1: See YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 183).

2: Pennell 1908 [more] , vol. 1, p. 201; vol. 2, pp. 88-89.

3: MacDonald 1987 A [more] .

4: Special Collections Whistler PH4/18.

5: Pennell 1911 A [more] , pp. 276-77.

Last updated: 10th November 2020 by Margaret