The Lost Symphony: Whistler & the Perfection of Art

The White Symphony: Three Girls, ca. 1868.

The White Symphony: Three Girls, ca. 1868.This study for The Three Girls represents the early, optimistic stage of Whistler’s work on the painting that Leyland commissioned. It may be the “final oil sketch” he mentioned in a letter late in 1867, when the artist assured his patron that the work was “getting on.” Whistler painted The White Symphony on millboard, a coarsely textured, inexpensive support appropriate for creating a rough draft of the composition. In addition to a wide brush, he apparently used a palette knife for the blossoms and his fingers for the forms of the faces.

James McNeill Whistler
ca. 1868.
Oil on millboard
Freer Gallery of Art, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1902.138