UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Eva Barr, m. 1876

Nationality: British
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Date of Death:
Place of Death:

Identity:

Eva Barr, née Bennett, was the wife of the artisan, teacher and journalist Robert Barr. They had a daughter called Laura.

Life:

JW painted a portrait of Eva's husband in 1894/5, Portrait of Robert Barr (YMSM 428). One day Robert Barr brought their daughter, a 'dainty child with... wonderful hair' according to the Academy, to the studio with him and JW, taken with her, asked if he might paint her portrait. This being agreed upon, Eva Barr accompanied her daughter to her daily sittings.

The Academy recorded that the resulting portrait, Portrait of Miss Laura Barr (YMSM 429), was spoken of by JW as 'one which should add greatly to his reputation and those of his intimates who had seen the picture in the making were of one mind as to its value'. Eva Barr described the portrait as follows: 'Girl, about fourteen, size less than 3/4 as little of the body is shown below the waist. Dress indigo blue with yellow silk - old gold front and loosely bound waist band of same silk. Hair very fuzzy - reaching to shoulders only, brown eyes, grey black brows and lashes. Very delicate colouring as to face - a pensive sweet expression. Background - a Pompeian red or pink'. Sickert recalled that the portrait was painted at his studio at 13 Robert Street, suggesting a date of between December 1894 and March 1895, and that he made a pencil drawing of Laura whilst JW was painting her. This drawing was acquired by the Barr family.

Bibliography:

Academy, 10 October 1903, p. 390; Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, Sickert, W., 'Where Paul and I Differ', Art News, no. 14, 10 February 1910, p. 113; Sickert, W., 'L'Affaire Greaves', New Age, 15 June 1911, pp. 159-60; Who Was Who: A Companion to Who's Who, vol. 1, 1897/1915, London, 1920-21; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980.