The American-born artist, James McNeill Whistler (1834 - 1903) dominated the late 19th century art world. The University of Glasgow houses the world's largest public display of Whistler's art. Whistler bequeathed his Estate to his ward, Rosalind Birnie Philip, a younger sister of his late wife, Beatrix. Miss Philip subsequently gifted and bequeathed the art collection, and Whistler's personal collections of decorative art and memorabilia, to the University of Glasgow in 1935 and 1958 respectively. Whistler developed this stylised butterfly monogram to decorate both his work and personal possessions (particularly silverware). This particular butterfly was probably drawn for publisher William Heinemann for inclusion as a marginal illustration in "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" or "The Baronet and the Butterfly".
This object from the collection of the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery was selected by Shan MacDonald who created the Hunterian Art Gallery's Relic Challenge.