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Pink and Silver: A Princess from China

Painting, 1865, 199.9×116 cm

Description of the artwork «Pink and Silver: A Princess from China»

Painting by an American artistJames Abbot McNeill Whistler “Pink and Silver: A Princess from the Country of China” was written between 1863 and 1865. The work became famous after it became the main artistic emphasisThe Peacock Room - the picturesque decoration of the dining room in the London mansion of shipping magnate Frederick Leyland.

The model for this picture of Whistler was a Greek woman of English origin Christina Spartali, the sister of the artist Mary Spartali-Stillman, which was also one of the favorite models of artists included in Brotherhood of the Pre-Raphaelites. “The Princess from the Land of China” is one of Whistler’s several works written during this period: the artist portrayed European women in oriental outfits and in oriental decorations. The "Anglo-Japanese" style has been very popular in Victorian England since the mid-19th century, especially after the 1862 International Exhibition in London, where the Japanese exposition was presented.

On the surviving sketch, the artist depicted flowers, which he later excluded from the composition of the main painting. The screens in the background may have belonged to Whistler himself, as well as the vase seen from the bottom right. Judging by the paintings painted by the mother in the same period -“Caprice in Purple and Gold: A Golden Screen" (1864) and"Whistler in his studio" (1865), he had enough oriental decor.

After the portrait, Whistler assumed that he would be bought by the father of the model, a wealthy Greek entrepreneur and future Greek consul in London, Mikhail Spartali. However, Whistler's large signature, located on the left in the corner, next to the model’s head, did not like that. As a result, the painting was acquired by Frederick Leyland, owner of the shipping company Leyland Shipping Line, a well-known collector of Chinese blue and white porcelain from the Qing and Kangxi dynasties.

A few years later, in 1873, Leyland conceived the reconstruction of his London house at Princes Gate, 49. The work of the dining room was entrusted to the British architect Thomas Jekyll. It was decided to turn the room into an exhibition space for the collection of Leyland porcelain, and the main focus was to be the “Princess from the country of china” by Whistler, which was placed on the north wall.

Jekyll fell ill, and Whistler was instructed to finish work on the dining room. In a burst of inspiration, the artist completely changed the design of his predecessor. Known for his subtle color harmonies and elegant sense of design, the artist believed that the red roses of old leather wallpapers did not harmonize with the colors of his “Princess” ... So the famous was born Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room, Whistler’s masterpiece, for which Leyland never paid - but he didn’t change anything.

After Leyland’s death, the “Princess” was auctioned off. Through third hands, its owner was the American industrialist and collector Charles Lang Freer, a friend and admirer of Whistler's talent, the owner of the largest collection of his works (1189 paintings and art objects). A year later, Freer anonymously purchased from the Leyland heirs the entire “Peacock Room”, which he moved to Detroit and placed in his mansion. After the death of the patron, his entire collection was donated to the state. The exposition is located in the walls.Art Galleries Freer in Washington, which was open to the public in 1923. The “Peacock Room” and its pearl - Whistler's painting “Pink and Silver: The Princess from the Country of China” - became part of the exposition of this museum.
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Realism, Japonism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1865

Size: 199.9×116 cm

Artwork in selections: 10 selections

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