Monday, April 19, 2010

Picture of the week No.18 - J.M. Whistler

This week's selected picture is an intimate portrait by James McNeill Whistler, one of 5 small works by the artist in the gallery's collection. The drawing captures the sitter at rest in just a few quick lines and Whistler's subtle use of tonal shading renders the likeness with characteristic un-fussiness.

Head and Shoulders of Ronald Philip, c.1900‑1901

pencil on paper, 15.2 x 10 cm
inscribed: Butterfly monogram
inscribed on reverse in the hand of Harold Wright (Colnaghi's Print Director): Ronald Philip (Mrs Whistler's / brother) / by / Whistler / ex Collection of Miss R. Birnie Philip) / the artist's sister‑in‑law and executrix.
Accession no.: P.153

Ronald Murray Philip (1871-1940) was the son of the sculptor John Birnie Philip and Frances Black. He was the same age as Whistler’s son Charles Hanson and was treated by Whistler like a favourite nephew, being portrayed by him on a number of occasions.

PROVENANCE: In Whistler's studio at his death in 1903 and bequeathed to his sister‑in‑law, Miss R. Birnie Philip; P&D Colnaghi Ltd, from whom purchased by Gallery, January 1958.
REFERENCES: M.F. Macdonald, James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, 1995, p.588-9, repr. p.589, no.1637.

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