Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl

James Abbot McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)


Oil on canvas

213 x 107.9 cm (83 7/8 x 42 1/2 in.); framed: 244.2 x 136.5 x 8.3 cm (96 1/8 x 53 3/4 x 3 1/4 in.)

Harris Whittemore Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Accession No. 1943.6.2

Kindly made available as an Open Access image

This was painted in Paris, and everything about the young woman belies the lyrical association of the title: her dishevelled hair, her dazed expression and the flowers dropping from her nerveless hand on to the animal skin — itself a hint at the reason: she has evidently been crudely (if that is not too kind a word) robbed of her innocence. Robin Spencer describes this as "one of the earliest of [Whistler's] important figural studies" (253). — Jacqueline Banerjee