Marshall Field was the wealthiest man in Chicago of his time, worth an estimated $100 million when he died.
Originally working as a clerk for Potter Palmer, he saved half of his $400 a year salary, and in 1865, with his partner Levi Leiter, bought Palmer's dry-goods store. Field and Leiter eventually became 'Marshall Field and Company', which is now one of the most successful and widespread department-store chains in the world. Field donated $8 million to establish the Field Museum of Natural History. His Prairie Avenue mansion was the first home in Chicago to be wired for electric lighting.
Both Field and Leiter were extremely rich art collectors, and patrons of Whistler. It is not entirely clear when and where Field bought his Whistlers, which including several fine Venice pastels, although it is possible they came from Whistler's cousin, Ross Winans of Baltimore, possibly after Whistler's death. His collection included San Samuel (M.757), Little Calle in San Barnaba; gold and brown (M.764), r.: The Palace in Rags; v.: Houses by a canal, with bridges (M.770), Under the Frari (M.771), The Zattere; harmony in blue and brown (M.774), Canal, San Cassiano (M.778), Silver and Gold: Chelsea (M.1006) and r.: The Blue Girl; v.: Woman holding a fan (M.1223).
Who Was Who in America, vol. 2, 1897-1941, Chicago, 1943.