Joanna Hiffernan, Mr. Whistler’s mistress (their relationship referred to as “marriage without benefit of clergy”) modeled for many artists.
Her beauty epitomized purity and Whistler's painting portrayed a lovely young girl wearing virginal white and holding lilies. However, as he also had her staring vacantly while standing on a bearskin rug with her hair in disarray (definitely not epitomizing purity), it also caused some alarm, plus a minor scandal.
Rejected by both the London Royal Academy of Art and the Paris Salon, it finally found a home at the Salon Des Refusés, the “exhibition of rejects”. It is now hanging in the National Gallery of Art.
Original Painting by James Abbott McNeill Whistler