James McNeill Whistler
The Artist in His Studio, 1865/66
Oil on paper mounted on panel
62.9 x 46.4 cm (24 3/4 x 18 1/4 in.)
Signed: Butterfly in cartouche, middle right
Friends of American Art Collection, 1912.141
During the mid-1860s, James McNeill Whistler painted several figure subjects that depicted Western models in Asian garb. These genre paintings were essentially European compositions that the artist enhanced with such additions as kimonos, screens, and porcelain in keeping with contemporary Japanism, and they suggest he was still grappling with these foreign aesthetics. He documented this new passion in The Artist in His Studio of 1865/66, depicting three Japanese scrolls hanging on the wall and shelves of blue-and-white porcelain in the corner. Even the subject—the two languidly posed models—appears to refer to Japanese ukiyo-e prints, or "pictures of the floating world," which often depict beautiful women in intimate surroundings.
Milwaukee Art Institute, Exhibition of Forty Paintings presented to the Art Institute of Chicago by the Friends of American Art, March 1-29, 1925, cat. 40.
Judith A. Barter et al, The Age of American Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2011), no. 11.