"The Princess from the Land of Porcelain" was painted by James Mc Neill Whistler. It was a portrait of a very well off socialite, who Whistler felt a certain closeness to.
Most of Whistlers paintings were painted with a very muted palette and I was pleasantly surprised to find
this little gem with such lively dashes of color among his work. After having read about the personality of his sitter, these colors and the Japanese style are a nice tribute to a woman who was well traveled and appreciative of a new approach to portraiture.
This socialite loved to collect blue and white porcelain, thus the title. Sometime after the painting was done Whistler learned that the couple was renovating their home and that a formal dining room was being especially designed to showcase the collection. The painting was to be hung over the fireplace, flanked by delicate little shelves to house their hand picked porcelain treasures.
Whistler saw this as a demotion of his art and when he heard that the homeowner planned to have the entire room lined in Cordova leather, he just about lost it. This particular Cordova leather was from the sixteenth century, once belonging to Catherine of Aragon. The leather was painted with a delicate flower pattern, but too dark and busy, not at all a compliment to his painting, which was already being used as a backdrop for porcelain. So Whistler devised a very clever plan, which I will share with you at a later time.