RU Inscribed in pencil b.l. "1/2 [Oats]"; around medallion "HELENA CLAYTONIA - 1887". Verso printed "The High Mills / W. S. / p. 37L" CRE WHISTLER, Beatrix; (1857-1986) Many of Beatrix Whistler's portrait sketches are of family and friends, who were easily accessible and compliant models. The portraits range from quick pen sketches to delicate, considered pencil drawings.
This is a sketch of a portrait medallion in the classical style, showing Beatrix Whistler's friend Helen Clayton. The other sketches of collars and a figure in a cape with a train, may relate to her studies of costume.
The diary of Beatrix Whistler's first husband, E. W. Godwin (1833-1886), architect and designer, records that she studied costume and dress from prints in the British Museum between 1870-1882 (Godwin Diary, Victoria and Albert Museum). Sometimes she studied with Godwin, but in 1879 she was paid to assist the history painter Richard Caton Woodville in his costume research (see MacDonald, Margaret F., 'Beatrice Whistler: Artist and Designer', Glasgow: Hunterian Art Gallery, 1997, pp. 23-24). Although her sketches have not survived, drawings like this illustrate her interest in costume.
Godwin designed costumes and was an enthusiastic supporter of the dress reform movement, which campaigned against restrictive fashions like corsets and heavy clothes. Her second husband, Whistler, often designed his sitter's outfits.
This is drawn on the back of a printed illustration from a journal, entitled 'The High Mills'.
Birnie Philip Bequest, 1958