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A young woman with pale, peachy skin, wearing a long, flowing white dress, stands in front of a white curtain in this vertical portrait painting. Her auburn-red hair cascades down over and behind her shoulders. She looks to our left with green eyes, and her pink, full lips are closed. Her dress has puffed shoulders above a white-on-white striped pattern on the long sleeves. She stands on an animal pelt; it is not clear whether it is a wolf or a bear. The pelt spans the width of the painting and overlaps a blue patterned carpet. The animal’s mouth gapes to show sharp teeth. Its glassy eyes are wide open, and it seems to look at us. The edges of the animal skin are red. The woman holds a white lily by her side in her left hand, while yellow and purple flowers lie scattered on the pelt.

James McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl, 1861-1863, 1872, oil on canvas, Harris Whittemore Collection, 1943.6.2

The Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan and James McNeill Whistler

Introduction to the Exhibition

Focus: Exhibitions

  • Sunday, July 3, 2022
  • 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • East Building Auditorium
  • In-person
  • Registration Required

Registration is required.

Margaret F. MacDonald, exhibition curator and professor of art history at the School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow

The Woman in White explores the life of Joanna Hiffernan and her influential role in artist James McNeil Whistler’s life and work. This exhibition represents the first concerted effort to better account for what is hidden in plain sight in so many of Whistler’s celebrated early works: Hiffernan herself.

Join us on July 3, 2022, for the exhibition opening and introductory lecture on its major themes with curator Margaret F. MacDonald. Professor MacDonald is a leading authority on James McNeill Whistler and has written and co-written numerous publications on the artist including James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours: A Catalogue Raisonné (1995), Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice (2001), and The Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan and James McNeill Whistler (2020).