Whistler frequently depicted his model and longtime companion Maud Franklin, recognizable by her auburn hair, in quiet moments at home. Several compositions contain suggestions of an unseen person—perhaps the artist himself—by including a hat on the bed or an empty chair. The small size of these works encourages the viewer to draw near, even though details dissolve on close inspection.
In the late nineteenth century an artist’s studio was regarded as a sanctuary of creativity and mystery. Whistler played on the appeal of the studio by welcoming patrons and collectors into his work space and providing a tantalizing peek behind the scenes. In Milly Finch, a model wearing a lavender dress poses provocatively on a red chaise lounge. In Note in Pink and Purple, Milly sits demurely with her hand in her lap. The identical dress, chaise, table, and drapery swag are present in both works, yet the mood is quite different. This illustrates how Whistler used his studio, with its theatrical trappings and bohemian intrigue, much like a performance space.