The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Burkett, ??-??

Nationality: English
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
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Mrs Burkett was JW's landlady at 8 Fitzroy Square. In July 1901 she married a Mr Blackwell. She had two daughters, Edith, later Mrs Shaw, and Sophie, later Mrs W. E. Griffiths.


Early in 1898 JW asked Mrs Burkett's daughter Edith to sit for him with 'an old fashioned sun-bonnet' on her head. She was then about twelve. However, Edith was taken ill and Mrs Burkett's other daughter Sophie was sent to pose instead. JW made a rough sketch of her, and becoming interested in her as a subject, decided to paint a portrait of her. He worked on Rose and Gold: The Little Lady Sophie of Soho (YMSM 504) over a number of weeks before returning to Paris. Edith recalled that the painting was finished at 110 rue du Bac. This was probably about March 1899. Edith, explaining the title, said that JW 'told my mother my sister was 'fit to be a princess', and he named the finished picture Rose and Gold: Little Lady Sophie of Soho.'

When Sophie's picture was completed around May 1899, JW started to paint Edith again. Edith recalled, 'I was wearing a blue dress with a cerise yoke pleats & a black ribbon bow on my hair at the back' to contrast with her red-gold hair, which JW used to describe as 'burning gold'. The painting was completed before JW went to Corsica at the end of 1900.


Shaw, Edith and Margaret F. MacInnes, 'Four Years with Whistler', Apollo, vol. 87, March 1968, pp. 198-201; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980.