James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903)
Watercolor and gouache on dark brown wove paper
11 1/4 x 5 in. (28.6 x 12.7 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.312)
Having begun working in watercolor during his years as a student at West Point, Whistler turned his attention to the medium more seriously during the early 1880s and began exhibiting watercolors in London in 1884. Landscapes derived from English scenes and familiar female models were his preferred subjects. This watercolor of a somewhat imperious, unidentified sitter shares visual traits with Whistler's oil portraits of about the same time, such as Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Black: Portrait of Théodore Duret (13.20), especially a dependence on inspiration from works by Diego Velázquez.