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HomeEntertainmentArtJoanna Hiffernan and James McNeill Whistler: Symphony in Two Voices

Joanna Hiffernan and James McNeill Whistler: Symphony in Two Voices

From 3 July to 10 October 2022, the National Gallery of Washington presents “The Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan and James McNeill Whistler“, an exhibition exploring the non-public {and professional} relationship between James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) and Joanna Hiffernan (1839-1886).

Source: National Gallery of Washington · Image: James McNeill Whistler, “Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl,” (full view and element) 1862, oil on canvas, 213 x 107.9 cm. (83 7/8 x 42 1/2 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington. Harris Whittemore Collection

Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl” is without doubt one of the hottest works within the National Gallery of Washington’s assortment of American work. Also painted by some of the well-known American painters of the nineteenth century, James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), the determine portrayed, Joanna Hiffernan (1839-1886) is, nevertheless, much less well-known. The exhibition opening on the National Gallery (following its run on the Royal Academy of Arts, London, from 23 February to 22 May this yr) goals to fill this historic hole, by exploring “who Hiffernan was, her partnership with Whistler, and her role in the creative process

The Gallery provides a quick biographical sketch of Hiffernan, explaining that “baptised in Limerick (Ireland), Joanna Hiffernan immigrated to London with her parents and siblings—where, as Irish Catholics, they experienced poverty and social prejudice in a class-bound society. When they met in 1860, Hiffernan not only became Whistler’s primary model but also helped manage his studio and financial affairs. In 1866, Whistler gave her power of attorney and made her his sole heir in his will. In 1870, after Whistler fathered a child with Louisa Fanny Hanson, Hiffernan and her sister Agnes Singleton raised the boy, Charles (“Charlie”) James Whistler Hanson. The baby turned the first connection between Hiffernan and Whistler by the 1870s and into the Eighteen Eighties. In 1886, Hiffernan died of bronchitis after lifelong respiratory issues that will have been exacerbated by her earlier publicity to poisonous artwork supplies whereas working within the studio.

Despite all the records, letters, and works of art that document Hiffernan’s life, much remains to be discovered,” the gallery continues in a press launch. “Personal correspondence is rare, and no photographs of Hiffernan or works of art by her have yet been found. Presenting what is known, the exhibition invites visitors to participate in recovering Hiffernan’s humanity by considering the essential mystery of who she was.”

Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery of Art, famous that “The Woman in White” “is the first exhibition to delve deeply into how these exquisite depictions of Joanna Hiffernan were made, what they mean, who Hiffernan was, as well as the broader influence and resonance of Hiffernan’s collaboration with Whistler for Victorian culture in the late 19th century.”

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