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
Oil on millboard
Freer Gallery of Art, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1902.138