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Maud Franklin, 1857- ca 1941

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 9 January 1857
Place of Birth: Bicester, Oxfordshire


Maud Franklin was Whistler's model and mistress. She was christened Mary after her mother, Mary Clifton, and in later years exhibited paintings under the name 'Clifton Lin'. Her father, Charles Franklin, was a cabinet maker and upholsterer and she had two brothers and three sisters. Maud sometimes called herself 'Mrs Whistler' and indeed at the time of the 1881 census gave her married name as 'Mary M. Whistler'. It is known that she had at least two daughters: Maud Mary Whistler Franklin who was born on 13 February 1879, and Ione, born on 15 October, possibly in 1876 or 1877. The child Maud died at an early age, and Ione was brought up by foster parents; she later married Warwick A. Tyler, on 14 October 1899.

Eventually Maud married a wealthy New Yorker, John A. Little, and had a son, John Franklin Little. He came to live in Sausolito, CA, near his half-sister, Ione, who looked after him for two years until his death in 1948. After Little's death in 1904, Maud was married again, in about 1911, to another New Yorker, Richard H. S. Abbott. They lived in Yport and at Villa Mon Gri near Cannes until her death on 18 November 1939.


It is not known exactly when Maud began to pose for Whistler, but she is said to have stood in for Mrs Leyland (see Mrs Leyland seated m0429) for the portrait, Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland y106, which was first exhibited in 1874. She was then only seventeen. She was also the original model for what became a portrait of Florence Leyland (Portrait of Miss Florence Leyland y107) and for the completed version of Harmony in Grey and Peach Colour y131 (see Study in Grey and Pink m0470, The White Girl m0471). Probably the first portrait of her is Portrait of Maud Franklin y094.

Certainly in the mid-1870s she was installed as Whistler's model and mistress until his marriage in 1888. She was beautiful, passionate, artistic and, as a model, sensitive and expressive. She posed for some of Whistler's finest etchings (Maud, Standing 169,The Letter (Maud, seated) 116, The Desk 129), lithographs (W 1-3, 6, 13, 131), paintings (Portrait of Maud Franklin y094; Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland y106; Portrait of Miss Florence Leyland y107; The Blue Girl: Maud Franklin y112; Harmony in Grey and Peach Colour y131; Maud Franklin y132; Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket y181; Arrangement in Brown y182; Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans y183; Arrangement in White and Black y185; A Portrait: Maud y186; Harmony in Pink and Red y192; Arrangement in Blue and Green y193; Maud Franklin y194; Arrangement in Black: Girl Reading y223; Harmony in Black and Red y236; Note in Red: The Siesta y254; Portrait of Maud Franklin y353; Harmony in Black, No. 10 y357; Maud y358) as well as drawings, pastels and watercolours. Whistler called his portraits of Maud 'artist's' pictures: 'impresions of my own'; and they are very personal works expressing depths of emotion between artist and model.

During the time of the Ruskin trial, Maud was pregnant, and Whistler behaved extremely badly towards her. Leaving Maud at a hotel in January 1879, he pretended he was going to Paris, sending letters under cover to George Lucas in Paris to be sent back to her in London. It is not clear whether Maud ever realized the deception practiced on her. When the little girl was born, she was registered without a father's name, although with 'Whistler' as one of her middle names; Maud giving her profession as artist.

After Whistler's bankruptcy, the baby apparently went to foster parents and she joined him in Venice; she cooked and entertained his friends, but was not 'received' in society. She may have helped to print and sell the Venetian etchings on their return.

Perhaps because of her pregnancies, Maud's health suffered, and a number of watercolours in the eighties show her in bed (see Girl reading in bed m0867, Maud reading in bed m0899, Pink note - The Novelette m0900). She painted alongside Whistler's followers and exhibited at the Grosvenor and the Society of British Artists. There were tremendous rows between Maud and Beatrice Godwin before Whistler's marriage in 1888. Maud went to convalesce at the home of William Stott of Oldham, where she heard the news of Whistler's marriage. She later departed for Paris where she modeled a little and later refused to speak to biographers about Whistler.


UK census 1881 (accessed 2004.03) from (accessed 2004); Will admitted for probate, copy dated 9 March 1962, Spirer papers, University of Glasgow; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., 'Maud Franklin,' in James McNeill Whistler: A Reexamination, ed. Ruth Fine, Studies in the History of Art, vol. IXX, Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, Washington, D.C., Symposium Papers VI, 1987, pp. 13-26; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995; MacDonald, Margaret F., Susan Galassi, Aileen Ribeiro and P. de Montfort, Whistler, Women and Fashion, New Haven and London, 2003.