UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Eloise or Héloise [unknown], ??-??

Nationality: French
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Date of Death:
Place of Death:

Identity:

Eloise or Héloise ('Fumette'), a milliner or 'grisette' in the Latin Quarter, was JW's model and mistress.

Life:

Fumette was the first of JW's mistresses in Paris. She used to carry around with her a little basket containing her crochet work and a volume of poetry by Alfred de Musset which she knew by heart. She wore her hair loose which excited much comment. She was presumed to be a gypsy or bohemian, and not a member of respectable society.

Fumette and JW lived at a hotel on the rue St Sulpice. According to the Pennells, they were together for two years, although not always happily. On one occasion Fumette destroyed a cache of JW's drawings in a fit of anger, thus living up to her nickname 'the tigress'.

Fumette posed for several of JW's etchings, including Fumette (K.13), Fumette, Standing (K.56), Fumette's Bent Head (K.57) and possibly Venus (K.59). She may also have been the subject for Reclining lady (M.214), Seated seamstress with male companion (M.288) and r.: Fumette; v.: Dancing clowns (M.289).

Following her relationship with JW, Fumette lived with a musician and even later travelled to South America where she set up as a modiste.

Bibliography:

Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; MacDonald, Margaret F. et al, Whistler, Women and Fashion, New Haven and London, 2003; Mansfield, Howard,A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etchings and Dry-Points of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Chicago, 1909; 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.