She was not only beautiful. She was intelligent, she was sympathetic. She gave Whistler the constant companionship he could not do without.
— Elizabeth Robins & Joseph Pennell


She was Symphony in White
No. 1: The White Girl,
skin like milk, lushness about
her eyes, lips, strong line of her
nose, creamy brocade, lillyed
cambric setting off her fiery,
exuberant hair, chin set
for contemplation. 

She organized his house,
imagination. She adopted his son,
cared for during long, artistic
absences. She was an accomplice
to his creativity, was she not?
White was an interesting choice,
in between the exigencies
of color, revealing shading,
texture, brilliance of a light
source, pull of attraction.

As a model, she conferred her
presence in tacit agreement,
her life a testimony, Beautiful
, henna hair crimping
like a ladder, her influence subtle,
gaelic and unmistakable. She was the
intersection of two great artists, the
pendulum of all women -- The White
and The Origin of the World.
She had a body, a reality, an
interior understanding of what
it meant to be muse, inspiration
of the bold statement: Yes.

About Jo Hiffernan

© Tori Grant Welhouse