Lord Colin Campbell was the fifth son of Lord George Douglas Campbell, the eighth Duke of Argyll, and Lady Elizabeth Georgiana Campbell, née Sutherland-Leveson-Gower. He was M.P. for Argyllshire from 1878 to 1885. In 1881 he married Gertrude Elizabeth Blood, the daughter of Edmond Maghlin Blood of Brickhill, Co. Clare. Lady Campbell obtained a judicial separation from her husband in 1884 on the grounds of cruelty. In 1886 she petitioned for divorce.
Lord Colin Campbell was one of twelve children. His brothers were John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland, the Marquess of Lorne (b. 1845); Archibald, a soldier, writer and businessman (b. 1846); Walter Campbell (b. 1848); and George Granville, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy (b. 1850). His sisters were Edith, Countess Percy (b. 1849); Elizabeth (b. 1852); Victoria (b. 1854); Evelyn (b. 1855); Frances (b. 1858); Mary Emma (b. 1859); and Constance Harriet (b. 1864).
Lady Colin Campbell posed for Whistler in August and September of 1886 but the portrait, Harmony in White and Ivory: Portrait of Lady Colin Campbell (YMSM 354), was never finished. Whistler had hoped to have the picture complete before Campbell's divorce case went to court. However, it was nevertheless exhibited at the Society of British Artists in December 1886, being described in the catalogue as unfinished. Wyke Bayliss, who later succeeded Whistler as President of the Society, after it had been awarded a Royal Charter, felt that the picture should be removed from the exhibition, perhaps because of its unfinished state or because of the controversial circumstances surrounding the sitter.
Campbell's sister-in-law Lady Archibald Campbell had already been painted by Whistler (see Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell in Court Dress (YMSM 240), The Grey Lady: Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 241), and Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 242)). Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 242) had also been a controversial painting. Lady Archibald Campbell, posed in Whistler's studio in Tite Street against a background of black velvet, was thought by the family look like a common prostitute.
Lady Colin Campbell, herself an amateur artist, exhibited a sketch at the SBA exhibition of 1886-7. Following her divorce case which was dismissed from court, Lord Campbell went to Bombay where he died in 1895. Lady Campbell, who had a deep interest in art, as well as literature, fashion and sport, became art critic of The World, and editor of the Ladies Field. She also wrote several books including Darell Blake, A Book of the Running Brook and A Miracle in Rabbits.
Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, London, 1896; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980.