Fanny Leyland was the oldest daughter of the Liverpool ship owner Frederick Richards Leyland and his wife Frances (née Dawson), who married in 1855 and separated in 1879. She had three siblings, Frederick Dawson, Florence and Elinor. She later became Mrs Stevenson-Hamilton.
F. R. Leyland commissioned portraits from Whistler of all his four children. Portrait of Miss Leyland (1) (YMSM 109) and Portrait of Miss Leyland (2) (YMSM 110) may have been portraits of Fanny. Portrait of Miss Leyland (1) (YMSM 109), which shows a young lady in riding habit, was mistaken by Pennell as a portrait of Mrs Cassatt. Portrait of Miss Leyland (2) (YMSM 110) shows a woman in a long white dress wearing a large white hat and standing on grey matting against a black background. Both are now missing, but descriptions were made by Way and Dennis. Head of a woman (M.442), Study for 'Portrait of Miss Leyland' (M.501), Study for 'Portrait of Miss Leyland' (M.502), Profile portrait of a young lady (M.527), r.: The Dressmaker; v.: Figure study (M.531) and Female Figure with Fan (M.532) may have been portraits of Fanny, although the sitter in Head of a woman (M.442) looks a bit too old. Fanny did not pose nearly as much as her two sisters. Note in pink and purple (M.935) was mistakenly identified at the 1933 Cincinnati 10th Annual Exhibition, Cincinnati Art Museum, 12 June - September 1933, as a portrait of Fanny. as a portrait of Fanny.
Way, T. R., and G. R. Dennis, The Art of James McNeill Whistler: An Appreciation, London, 1903; 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., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.