The Yellow Room

James McNeill Whistler American

Not on view

The Yellow Room is among Whistler’s most accomplished watercolors, a harmonious "arrangement" of violet and yellow, dating from his most experimental period of working with the progressive medium at a critical career juncture. A depiction of the artist’s principal model and mistress, Maud Franklin (who posed for more than 60 of his works), the picture offers a rare, intimate glimpse into Whistler’s personal and professional expatriate life. The interior scene documents the sitting room of the couple’s London home-studio at 13 Tite Street, in Chelsea, innovatively decorated in what the artist’s future biographer Joseph Pennell, described as a "scheme of yellow," and filled with Whistler’s trendsetting collection of Japanese objets d’art and Aesthetic Movement design.

The harmonized interiors of Tite Street, which one friend described as having the effect of "standing inside an egg," echoed Whistler’s most controversial exhibition—the 1883 Arrangement in White and Yellow at London’s Fine Art Society. In these terms, The Yellow Room synthesizes many aspects of Whistler’s most adventurous art and design work in the early 1880s—from the private, informal view of his favorite model and muse "at home" to his contemporaneous production of avant-garde works on paper and his fastidious decoration of customized spaces for the display of art.

The Yellow Room, James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London), Watercolor and gouache on paperboard, American

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