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

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The Rose Scarf

Titles

Only one title is known:

  • 'L'écharpe Rose' ('The Rose Scarf') (1905, Œuvres de James McNeill Whistler, Paris). 1
  • 'L'Écharpe rose' (1936, University of Glasgow). 2
  • 'The Rose Scarf' (1980, YMSM). 3

'The Rose Scarf' is the preferred title. Whistler was interested in fashion and often chose, and occasionally designed, outfits for specific portraits. Several titles refer, like this, to the sitter's clothing or accessories i.e. Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell [YMSM 242], Red and Black: The Fan [YMSM 388], and Harmony in Brown: The Felt Hat [YMSM 395].

Description


                    The Rose Scarf, The Hunterian
The Rose Scarf, The Hunterian

A half-length portrait of a woman, in vertical format. She wears a very pale pink blouse with frills down the front, and a dark skirt. Her head is slightly tilted to her right and she is looking to her right. She has brown curly hair, with a fringe. She is sitting in a chair: the black arms are visible, but her own arms and hands are unresolved.

Sitter

Unknown.


                    Rose et argent: La Jolie Mutine, The Hunterian
Rose et argent: La Jolie Mutine, The Hunterian

                    The Rose Scarf, The Hunterian
The Rose Scarf, The Hunterian

The same model may have posed for another portrait of a woman, Rose et argent: La Jolie Mutine [YMSM 389].

W. & D. Downey, Ethel Birnie Philip (Mrs Whibley), [ca 1895], GUL Whistler
PH1/52
W. & D. Downey, Ethel Birnie Philip (Mrs Whibley), [ca 1895], GUL Whistler PH1/52

It is possible that the model is Whistler's sister-in-law Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), who married Charles Whibley in 1895, and posed for numerous portraits by Whistler.

Comments

The Observer, on 6 June 1915, commented that "In 'L'Echarpe Rose,' a portrait study of infinite subtlety, both in characterisation and in the blending of colour notes that cannot possibly be described in definite terms, the master betrays a certain kinship with the Belgian, Alfred Stevens." 4 Alfred Émile-Léopold Stevens (1823-1906) was a close friend of Whistler in the 1890s, and the comparison is an interesting one.

Notes:

1: Œuvres de James McNeill Whistler, Palais de l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1905 (cat. no. 32).

2: James McNeill Whistler, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, 1936 (cat. no. 15).

3: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 390).

4: Anon., 'Art and Artists. A Whistler Exhibition', The Observer, London, 6 June 1915; press cutting in GUL Whistler PC 21, p. 23.

Last updated: 31st December 2020 by Margaret