Edith Bronson was the daughter of Arthur Bronson and Katherine Bronson, née De Kay. She became Countess Rucellai on her marriage to Cosimo Rucellai in 1895.
The Bronson family held a central position within Venetian society, having settled in Venice in 1876. Katherine Bronson was related to JW's early patron, Thomas De Kay Winans. In fact, JW himself was a distant relation, his older brother George having married Julia De Kay Winans. In 1879-80 JW, along with Robert Browning, John Singer Sargent and Henry James, enjoyed the Bronsons' hospitality at the Ca' Alvisi, the family home situated at the mouth of the Grand Canal opposite Santa Maria della Salute. Edith told the Pennells that JW said, 'Venice is an impossible place to sit down and sketch in' because 'there was something still better round the corner'. He later declared to her mother, 'Venice is only really known in all its fairy perfection to the privileged who may be permitted to gaze from Mrs Bronson's balcony' (#11542). According to family tradition, JW gave her mother Venice (M.816), possibly as a parting gift.
Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 1, p. 263; MacDonald, Margaret F., Palaces in the Night Whistler in Venice, Aldershot, 2001; Meredith, M. (ed.), More Than Friend: The Letters of Robert Browning to Katherine de Kay Bronson, Waco, Texas, 1985; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.