The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Rose Amy Pettigrew, 1872-??

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1872.02.25
Place of Birth: Portsmouth
Date of Death:
Place of Death:


Rose Amy Pettigrew was a professional model in London. Her father was William Pettigrew, a cork cutter, and her mother Harriet Davis, a needleworker: they had married in 1853 and had thirteen children in all. Hetty, the oldest, and Lily, one of the middle girls, were also models. Hetty later became a sculptor. Rose married Harry Waldo Warner in 1896.


Rose came to London in 1884 when she was just twelve years old. She and her sisters first posed for John Everett Millais' An Idyll of 1745 (Lady Lever Art Gallery) in 1884. Millais described them as 'three little gypsies... with the characteristic carelessness of their race, they just came when they liked'. The three girls also posed for Rudolph Onslow Ford, William Holman Hunt, Frederic Leighton, Edward Poynter, Val Prinsep, John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert and Philip Wilson Steer.

Rose seems to have known Whistler from 1884/5 and may have posed for Flesh Colour and Silver: The Card Players (YMSM 496). She also posed for a number of pastels and writes in her memoirs, written c. 1947, that she used to lunch with Whistler and his wife Beatrice at their home on Tite Street. She claims that at one time Beatrice wanted to adopt her. By 1891 Rose was Whistler's most important model, posing five days a week for drawings, pastels and watercolours. Whistler called his series of pastel drawings of Rosie with a baby as the 'Rosie series' (see Rose Pettigrew embraced by a baby (M.1280), Rose Pettigrew holding a baby (M.1281), Mother and Child (M.1282), The Shell (M.1291) and Venus and Cupid (M.1296)). The child may have been the daughter of Rose's older brother Alfred and his wife Jane, Harriet Lilian, who was born in 1885. Another child, Ethel Jenny, was born in 1893.

Rose later fell in love with Steer but the relationship came to nothing.


Finlay, Ian Hamilton, Avenue Studios, Fulham Road : Rose Pettigrew, Dunsyre, 1990; Laughton, Bruce, Philip Wilson Steer, 1860-1942, Oxford, 1971; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995; MacDonald, Margaret, 'Pettigrew sisters', in Jiminez, Jill Berk (ed.), Dictionary of Artists' Models, Chicago, 2001.