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

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The Golden Lily (Green and Gold: The Little Green Cap)

Titles

There are considerable variations in the titles that have been suggested:

  • 'The Golden Lillie' ([1901], Whistler). 1
  • 'The Golden Lily' (1901, ISSPG). 2
  • 'The Little Green Cap' (1902, C. L. Freer). 3
  • 'The Green Cap' (1905, The Inaugural Loan Collection of Paintings, Buffalo). 4
  • ' "Green & Gold: The Little Green Cap", a portrait of Lillie Pamington' (1907, R. Birnie Philip). 5
  • 'Little Green Cap' (1909, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy). 6
  • 'Green and Gold: The Little Green Cap' (1980, YMSM). 7
  • 'The Golden Lily (Green and Gold: The Little Green Cap)' (2020, Whistler Painting Project).

The Golden Lily (Green and Gold: The Little Green Cap)' is the revised title, based on Whistler's original title as published in 1901, with the title given to it by the purchaser in 1902.

Description


                    Green and Gold: The Little Green Cap, Freer Gallery of Art
Green and Gold: The Little Green Cap, Freer Gallery of Art

A half-length portrait of a girl in vertical format. She is in three-quarter view to right, her head slightly tilted to left (her right), but looking at the viewer. She has dark red hair, shoulder-length, cut in a deep fringe. Her dress is black.

In 1901 the sitter was described in newspapers as 'wan', 'a young girl, red-haired and vivacious', 'strong in character', and having 'red-gold hair.' 8

Sitter

One of several portraits of Lilian ('Lily') Pamington (b. 1887/1888), including, for instance, Brown and Gold: Lillie 'In our Alley!' [YMSM 464], and Grenat et or: Le Petit Cardinal [YMSM 469].

In 1901 Whistler mentioned her as 'The Golden Lillie' and asked his dentist to cure her:

'I depend upon this pretty child - little Lillie Pamington - "The Golden Lillie" - for the making of my pictures - and I send her to you in great suffering not only that her pain may be stopped at once by your magic! but especially that her mouth may not be put out of drawing & ruined for me by some "Native" to whom she would otherwise run in her agony!' 9

It was suggested in 1980 that 'The Golden Lily' might have been the boy in Brun et or: De race [YMSM 511], but this is incorrect. 10

Notes:

1: Whistler to W. S. Davenport, [1901], formerly dated [1897/1900], GUW #09072.

2: 3rd Exhibition, Pictures, Drawings, Prints and Sculptures, International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, Galleries of the Royal Institute, London, 1901 (cat. no. 35).

3: [1902], Diaries, Bk 12, Freer Gallery Archives; GUW #13803.

4: The Inaugural Loan Collection of Paintings, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Buffalo, 1905 (cat. no. 169).

5: R. Birnie Philip to Freer, 8 October 1907, GUL.

6: 4th Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Buffalo, 1909 (cat. no. 186).

7: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 467).

8: Hearth and Home, 17 October 1901; Daily News, London, 12 October 1901; Star, London, 8 October 1901; Daily Telegraph, London, 9 October 1901; Chronicle, London, 5 October 1901. ISSPG press cuttings, National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1901 album.

9: Whistler to W. S. Davenport, [1901], formerly dated [1897/1900], GUW #09072.

10: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 542).

Last updated: 21st November 2020 by Margaret