The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Lillian Warren Churchill, ??-1909

Nationality: American
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth: Mobile, Alabama
Date of Death: 1909.01.11
Place of Death: Deepdene, Dorking, Surrey


Lillian Warren Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, née Price, was born in Mobile, Alabama, USA. She was the daughter of the late Commander Price of the U.S. Navy and the widow of Louis Hammersley of New York.

She married George Charles Spencer Churchill, 8th Duke of Marlborough, on 29 June 1888 in New York. It was her second marriage. After his death in 1892, she married Colonel Lord William Leslie de la Poer Beresford (d. 1900).


The Duke of Marlborough expressed an interest in JW's work. In 1890 he criticised the English tradition of portraiture and commended the French who: 'raved over Whistler, and recognised his delicacy and merit when the English Pharisees of art laughed at him'. In 1892 JW was commissioned by the Duke to paint state portraits of himself and the Duchess of Marlborough. JW began to make drawings of the Duke in his robes (#04021). The Duke invited JW to Blenheim Palace in September 1892, writing: 'we shall be alone then and we all work like niggers'. JW intended to charge 3000 guineas for the 2 paintings. However, the Duke died and the portraits were never completed.


George Charles Spencer Churchill, 'The Salon and the Royal Academy', New Review, no. 14, July 1890, p. 54; Debrett's Illustrated Peerage, London, 1896; Burke, E., The Peerage and Baronetage of Great Britain and Ireland; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.