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Sweet Silent Thought: Whistler's Interiors

Harmony in Green and Rose: The Music Room
1860–61
Oil on canvas
F1917.234

Whistler began work on this painting shortly after he moved from Paris to London in 1859. Originally known as The Morning Call, it is set in the Haden home on Sloane Street. The image of the artist’s half-sister Deborah Haden, who plays the piano, is reflected in the mirror to the left. Her daughter Annie reads in a chair. Isabella Boott, a family friend, pauses in the center of the room.

The figures occupy a slightly claustrophobic space and are strangely disengaged from one another. A sense of uneasiness is underscored by the way the floor seems to tilt forward when in reality it should recede. That the painting ultimately achieves visual coherence is due to the decorative unity created by the bold colors and the repeated pattern of the chintz draperies.