Janey Sevilla Campbell, née Callander, Lady Archibald Campbell, was the third daughter of James Henry Callander Esq. of Craigforth, Stirlingshire, and Ardkinglass, Argyllshire. On her father's death she became ward of the Duke of Argyll. In 1869 she married Archibald Campbell, the second son of the eighth Duke of Argyll. They had two children. Their son Niall Diarmid succeeded his uncle as the tenth Duke of Argyll.
Lady Campbell was a cultured woman who moved in refined social circles. She was also beautiful. Oscar Wilde described her as 'the Moon-Lady, the Grey Lady, the beautiful wraith with her beryl eyes', an appropriate description as, according to David Duff, she was a firm believer in the spirit world.
Introduced probably through Lady Meux, Campbell's patronage was important for Whistler's reputation following his bankruptcy in 1879, helping to restore his artistic position in London. Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell in Court Dress (YMSM 240) was his first portrait of Campbell but was abandoned by the artist and probably destroyed. The Grey Lady: Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 241), begun around 1882, was also abandoned. For Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 242) Campbell posed in Whistler's studio in Tite Street against a background of black velvet. The portrait was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in May 1884 and in the Salon in May 1885, but the Campbell family rejected it, believing Whistler to have made Lady Campbell look like a common prostitute. At the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889 the painting was awarded a first class gold medal. According to Sickert (1917) Degas greatly admired the work and declared, 'Elle rentre dans la cave de Watteau.'
In 1881 Whistler designed a trellis for the Campbell's country home at Coombe Hill Farm, Norbiton, Kingston on Thames, r. and v.: Trellis (M.848). In May 1881 it was erected and painted, causing great exasperation to Lord Campbell and the decorators.
Campbell and her husband were pioneers in encouraging the production of open-air pastoral plays. Around July 1884 Whistler painted Lady Campbell as Orlando in As You Like It,Note in Green and Brown: Orlando at Coombe (YMSM 317), produced at Coombe Hill Farm. The costumes for the production were designed by E. W. Godwin. Campbell's sister-in-law Lady Colin Campbell also posed to Whistler in 1886, Harmony in White and Ivory: Portrait of Lady Colin Campbell (YMSM 354).
Duff, David, The Life Story of H.R.H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, London, 1940; 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; MacDonald, Margaret F. et al, Whistler, Women and Fashion, New Haven and London, 2003.