The sitter’s sister Marie (artist Spartali-Stollman) told Pennell: ‘At first the work went quickly, but soon it began to drag. Whistler often scraped down the figure just as they thought it all but finished, and day after day they returned to find that everything was to be done over again … Mrs. Stillman remembers that Whistler partly closed the shutters so as to shut out the direct light; that her sister stood at one end of the room, the canvas beside her; that Whistler would look at the picture from a distance, then suddenly dash at it, give one stroke, then dash away again … The sittings went on until the sitter fell ill … The head in the “Princess” gave him most trouble … During her illness, a model stood for the gown, and when she was getting better, he came one day and made a pencil drawing of her head, though where it went to Mrs. Stillman never knew. There were a few more sittings after this, and at last, the picture was finished.’ The Princess from the Land of Porcelain by James Abbott McNeill Whistler has more stories to tell… https://www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk/correspondence/people/biog/?bid=Spar_C&fbclid=IwAR0Z8K3QjV1wsba9ee8HPO7ax0Ri9r3uvxu9QKVkwZdKKaVn-PSZ6Bpaca8 (Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 1, pp. 122-25, 130, 157, 203-04; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980.)
During the 1860s until the final years after the First World War, Japanese Art was all the rage amongst the world of Western Αrt ant Ιntelligentsia. At the time, James Abbott McNeill Whistler was a most fervent Japonist. Inspired by ukiyo-e prints, ancient Greek sculpture, music, and dance, Whistler created works of art of entranced female figures…Japanese and ancient Greek art set the tone. Rose and Silver: The Princess from the Land of Porcelain is one such happy consequence. Painted between 1863 and 1865 with Christine Spartali as the model, and described in 1865 as “unready for display and lacking in substance” by the art critic Gustave Vattier, the painting was not an immediate success. Without a direct buyer, the work changed hands for a few years – at one point landing in Dante Rossetti’s studio – before it was purchased by Frederick Leyland for his dreamed porcelainzimmer! In 1903, the painting was bought by Charles Lang Freer, and today Rose and Silver: The Princess from the Land of Porcelain can be seen in Washington DC, the Freer Gallery of Art, a much-appreciated part of the Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-story-behind-the-peacock-rooms-princess-159271229/ and https://artofdarkness.co/post/137432960224/whistler-princess-from-land-porcelain-gigapixel-details
Whistler’s painting Rose and Silver: The Princess from the Land of Porcelain was part of a series of costume pictures undertaken by Whistler in the mid-1860s in which western models appear in Asian dress, surrounded by Chinese and Japanese objects from Whistler’s own collections. He modeled the princess on Christina Spartali, a young woman of Greek descent who is dressed in a kimono and surrounded by luxurious objects that suggest an imaginary “land of porcelain.” Not intended as a portrait, the painting instead demonstrated a new ideal of beauty, one derived from Japanese ukiyo-e prints and the elongated figures painted on Chinese porcelain. https://asia.si.edu/object/F1903.91a-b/#object-content
When I teach American Art, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, in particular, I like to compare Rose and Silver: The Princess from the Land of Porcelain to Kitagawa Utamaro’s Washing and stretching cloth print of 1796-1797. The elegant postures of Ukiyo-e Ladies, their body language, grace, style, and refinement captivated Whistler’s imagination, creating… wonderful paintings! https://artvee.com/dl/drying-and-stretching-cloth/ and https://risdmuseum.org/exhibitions-events/exhibitions/women-floating-world
For a PowerPoint on paintings by James Abbott McNeill Whistler depicting European Women wearing Asian costumes, please… Check HERE!
Christina Spartali, the model for Whistler’s Princess from the Land of Porcelain, was Michael Spartali and Euphrosyne Varsini Spartali’s second daughter. Her father, a prosperous London resident merchant, became Consul-General for Greece in 1866. From 1864, the family lived in London at “The Shrubbery” in Clapham Common, and through their relatives, the Ionides, prominent patrons of the arts, became acquainted with members of the contemporary art world, including James McNeill Whistler. The photographer Julia Margaret Cameron was the Spartalis’ neighbor at Sandford, the family’s estate on the Isle of Wight, where photographs of the Spartali sisters were taken. In 1868, Christina married Count Eduard Joseph Cahen D’Anvers, a Jewish banker from Belgium, moved to Paris, and live the life of an upper-class, apparently not so happy, socialite. https://www.costumecocktail.com/2016/09/26/christina-marie-spartali-ca-1870/ and http://fannycornforth.blogspot.com/2018/12/sunday-16th-december-christine-spartali.html