James Abbott McNeill Whistler left America permanently at the age of twenty-one and spent four years in Paris before settling in London, where he lived for the rest of his life. He created this beautiful image, one of a series of tonal portraits challenging the sentimentality of Victorian...
James Abbott McNeill Whistler left America permanently at the age of twenty-one and spent four years in Paris before settling in London, where he lived for the rest of his life. He created this beautiful image, one of a series of tonal portraits challenging the sentimentality of Victorian portrayals of children, near the end of his career. Painted on a visit to the British coastal resort town of Lyme Regis in 1895, the portrait of eight-year-old Rosie Randall, daughter of the town’s mayor, was not a commission but one of a small group of studies Whistler undertook as a tribute to the children he called “the little Lyme Regis maidens.”Whistler portrays Rosie gazing directly at the viewer, nervously clasping her hands. She wears a red pinafore over a black dress and emerges from a dark background. The artist applied thin layers of paint to create this soft, diffuse likeness, which eloquently captures the innocence and vulnerability of childhood. He designed a wide, simple frame to emphasize the delicacy of the image. Perhaps best known for his 1871 painting Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), Whistler produced masterful etchings and lithographs [http://www.mfa.org/search/collections?artist=Whistler&objecttype=66] in addition to his innovative paintings. He also exerted tremendous influence through his writings, teaching, and exhibition design. Notes 1. Whistler to Beatrix Whistler, November 10, 1895 [dated from postmark], MS Whistler W629, Glasgow University Library. See Margaret F. MacDonald, Patricia de Montfort, and Nigel Thorp. eds., The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, 1855–1903; including Georgia Toutziari, ed., The Correspondence of Anna McNeill Whistler, 1855–1880 (Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2011), no. 06635, accessed January 6, 2012, http://www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk/correspondence. This text was adapted from Carol Troyen and Janet L. Comey, Amerikakaigakodomo no sekai [Children in American art], exh. cat. (Nagoya, Japan: Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 2007).
1895, with Wunderlich Galleries, New York; 1896, sold by Wunderlich Galleries to the MFA together with 96.951 for $7,200. (Accession Date: January 11, 1896)
Warren Collection—William Wilkins Warren Fund