The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Biography

Frances Septima Philip, 1867-1949

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1867.10.13
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1949.09.08
Place of Death:


Frances Septima Philip was JW's sister-in-law. She was the daughter of Frances Philip, née Black, and the sculptor John Birnie Philip. She was one of ten children: Constance (b. 1854), Beatrix (b. 1857), Edith (b. 1859), Ethel (b. 1861), Jane Bertha (b. 1864), Philippa Maude (b. 1865), John Francis (b. 1869), Ronald Murray (b. 1871) and Rosalind Birnie (b. 1873).


Frances' sister Beatrix married the Aesthetic Movement architect and designer E. W. Godwin in 1876, before marrying JW in 1888, subsequent to Godwin's death in 1886. Her sister Rosalind acted as companion, model, secretary and house keeper for JW after Beatrix's death, and was appointed JW's executrix at his death. Ethel married the American journalist and writer Charles Whibley in 1894. Ronald was a civil engineer who in 1900-1 accompanied JW on a trip to Gibraltar, Algiers, Tangiers, Marseilles and Corsica. Beatrix, Ethel, Ronald and Rosalind all acted as models at different times for JW.

JW, who called Frances, 'Miss Frank', described her in 1897 as 'very kind and charming', but overworked by her mother (#04698). In 1898 JW suggested that Rosalind, her mother, Frances and Philippa join him at Dunster, Somerset (#04735). At this date Frances and Philippa kept in touch with JW through letter writing (#04741). JW described himself as their 'affectionate and Knightly brother' (#04767). In 1900 JW and the Philip sisters, including Frances, appear to have stayed for a time in Dublin (#04777).


Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; 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.