Magda Stuart Heinemann, née Sindici, was the daughter of Cavaliere Augusto B. Sindici (1836-1921), a poet, writer on sport and Italian patriot, and Francesca Stuart Sindici, of Villa Sindici, Porto d'Anzio, near Rome (#05454). Magda was a writer, who married the London publisher William H. Heinemann in February 1899. They divorced in 1904.
Magda Heinemann published under the pseudonym 'Kassandra Vivaria'. Her novel Via Lucis was published by the Heinemann firm. When she became engaged to William Heinemann, JW congratulated him, describing her as 'the most fair and dainty Donna!' JW was their best man at their wedding at St Antonio's in Porto d'Anzio. After their marriage he was a frequent visitor at their London residence at Norfolk Street. Around 1898 JW designed a monogram for William Heinemann. He also designed one for Magda [see Designs for monograms for William and Magda Heinemann (M.1534)].
William Heinemann also commissioned a portrait of Magda from JW in 1898/99. Portrait of Mrs William Heinemann (YMSM 531) was probably begun in Paris in 1900. Sittings continued into 1901. In December 1901 JW wrote to Magda Heinemann from Bath to arrange a sitting: 'I trust you are in buoyant spirits and satisfied with your beauty? the bella Mafia is so exacting!' (#08549). According to the Pennells in 1902 JW was anxious to continue the portrait, 'a lovely harmony which needed for its completion only a few more sittings, but [...] these could not be arranged'. In June 1902 it appears that in desperation William Heinemann invited the artist L. R. Garrido to stay with him in Wimbledon in August to paint his wife's portrait. Garrido wrote: 'It seems Whistler has been on that job for the last two years and keeps her posing from 9 to 5 p.m.' JW asked for further sittings in 1902 and 1903. When her husband denied his request, JW wrote to Magda: 'Pity! - for I meant the picture to be beautiful - as it has every right to be! - and the arrangement is so new! [...] the hand is stayed - and the work ceases - for the joy of it has gone! -' (#08586).
Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Pennell, Joseph, and Elizabeth Robins Pennell, The Joseph and Elizabeth Robins Pennell Collection of Whistleriana Shown in Division of Prints, Library of Congress, Southwest Pavilion, Washington, G.P.O. Library Branch, 1921; Frederic Whyte, William Heinemann: A Memoir, London, 1928; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980.