29 September 1861|
Chelsea, London, England
|Died||21 April 1920
|Other names||née Ethel Birnie Philip|
|Occupation||Secretary & model for James McNeill Whistler|
|Parent(s)||John Birnie Philip and Frances Black|
Ethel Whibley, née Philip (29 September 1861 – 21 April 1920), was the sister-in-law of James McNeill Whistler. Ethel was a secretary to Whistler who used Ethel as a model for a number of full-length portraits painted during the period 1888 to the mid-1890s. Her sister Beatrice (also called 'Beatrix' or 'Trixie') married James McNeill Whistler in 1888, following the death of her first husband Edward William Godwin. In 1896 Ethel married the writer Charles Whibley. Her sister Rosalind Birnie Philip (b. 1873) subsequently acted as secretary to Whistler and was appointed Whistler's executrix at his death.
Ethel was born at Chelsea, London on 29 September 1861. Ethel was 4th of ten children of the sculptor John Birnie Philip and Frances Black. Ethel married Charles Whibley in 1896 in the garden of the house occupied by James Abbott McNeill Whistler at n° 110 Rue du Bac, Paris.
Before her marriage Ethel worked for a time in 1893–94 as secretary to James McNeill Whistler. Whistler painted a number of full-length portraits of Ethel, including Mother of Pearl and Silver: The Andalusian and the watercolour Rose and Silver: Portrait of Mrs Whibley; and other sketches and etchings of her titled as Miss Ethel Philip or Mrs Whibley.
Correspondence between family members addressed personal, social and professional matters as Whistler's sisters-in-law acted as his models and secretaries to manage his business affairs. In correspondence Beatrice Whistler was referred to a 'Trixie' or 'Chinkie'; his sister-in-law and secretary (1890–94) Ethel Whibley was 'Bunnie'; his brother-in-law Charles Whibley was 'Wobbles'; his sister-in-law and secretary Rosalind Birnie Philip was referred to as the 'Major'; with Whistler signing family correspondence as the 'General' when he did not sign with his butterfly signature.
James McNeill Whistler's portraits of Ethel
Portraits in oil of Ethel Whibley are titled:
- Mother of Pearl and Silver: The Andalusian (1888–1900)
- Sketch for a Portrait of Miss Ethel Philip (1880s/1890s)
- Sketch of Miss Ethel Philip (1890s)
- Red and Black: The Fan (1891/1894)
- Harmony in Brown: The Felt Hat (1891)
- Miss Ethel Philip Reading (c. 1894)
- Rose et or: La Tulipe (1892/1893)
- Harmony in Black: Portrait of Miss Ethel Philip (c. 1894)
- The Rose Scarf (c. 1890) (Oil on wood)
- McLaren Young, Andrew, MacDonald, Margaret F., Spencer, Robin and Miles, Hamish, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980 (YMSM 378. 388, 389, 395, 418, 419)
- MacDonald, Margaret F., Galassi, Susan Grace and Ribeiro, Aileen, Whistler, Women, & Fashion, Frick Collection/Yale University (2003)
- Biography of Rosalind Birnie Philip, (1873–1958) University of Glasgow, Special Collections
- Biography of John Birnie Philip, (1824–1875)
- wedding photo credited to E. Vallois held by Library of the University of Glasgow, Special Collections, GB 0247 Whistler PH1/165
- (1888–1896) held by National Gallery of Art, Washington, Harris Whittemore Collection
- Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC., Catalogue Number: M.1415
- Biography of Ethel Whibley (1861–1920) University of Glasgow, Special Collections
- Glasgow University Library, The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery
- Whistler correspondence, on-line edition, University of Glasgow
- Catalogue Number: YMSM 378, held by National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC., Harris Whittemore Collection
- Catalogue Number: YMSM 386, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
- Catalogue Number: YMSM 387, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
- Sweet, Frederick A. (1968). "James McNeill Whistler (Catalogue)" (PDF). Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
- Catalogue Number: YMSM 388, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
- Letter from James Whistler to Beatrix Whistler, 14 June 1891, refers to “Bunnie & the red Lady”, Whistler correspondence, 1855–1903 Archived 6 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- Letter from James Whistler to Rosalind Philip, 26 July 1897, refers to “the Red Bunnie”, Whistler correspondence, 1855–1903 Archived 6 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- Catalogue Number: YMSM 395, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
- Catalogue Number: YMSM 417, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
- Catalogue Number: YMSM 418, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
- Catalogue Number: YMSM 419, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
- Catalogue Number: GLAHA 46342, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
- The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, Glasgow University Formerly the work of the Centre For Whistler Studies.
- University of Glasgow, Special Collections