Teresa Cerutti was a dancer who modelled for Whistler. After un unfortunate first marriage, she married Will Simmons, son of the mural painter Edward Simmons who took over Whistler's Parisian studio after 1903.
Teresa Cerutti belonged to a troupe of dancers from Milan who travelled to Paris to perform a series of pantomimes. She later went to America and was successful as an interpreter of ancient dances.
According to Cerutti, Whistler painted two portraits of her about 1897/1903 in Paris at 86 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs (see Portrait of Teresa Cerutti (YMSM 508) and Head of Teresa Cerutti (YMSM 509)): 'The first was a bust, full face, in city dress of dark violet, with a Venetian lace covering the collar. It was hatless, with my hair at the sides, 'en bandeau,' or, as Mr. Whistler so often said, 'a la Botticelli''. The second 'was just my head, in profile, never completed'.
Whistler offered to let her have one of the portraits, but she refused, saying that 'they did not look like me, but like my aunt in Italy'. She left an important description of Whistler's portrait technique: 'With me he began at once by drawing in the bust with a brush and sienna', drawing only the outline at the first sitting, and at the second he making 'flat tones in sienna, in many shades'.
Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980 Cerutti, Teresa, An Intimate View of James McNeill Whistler (t. s., n.d.).