|James Abbott Mc Neill Whistler PRBA (1834-1903)|
Signed in the plate "Whistler".
2 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches
Printed in Paris by Imprimerie Delatre, Rue St Jacques 171.
Fourth state of four.
Sixty one known impressions.
Published as part of the French Set in 1858.
References: (K.9) Edward G. Kennedy, The Etched Work of
Whistler, New York, The Grolier Club, 1910.
(G87). Margaret F. MacDonald, Grischka Petri, Meg Hausberg,
and Joanna Meacock, James McNeill Whistler: The Etchings,
a Catalogue Raisonne, University of Glasgow, 2012.
While staying with his sister in London Whistler was inspired by his brother-in-law's collection of Rembrandt etchings and produced several images of his niece Annie and her younger brother Arthur. This tiny etching, only 2 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches, depicts Whistler's nephew Arthur Haden, the youngest son of Whistler's half sister Deborah and Sir Francis Seymour Haden.
Francis Haden was an accomplished artist and had himself produced an etching of Arthur in 1858. Whistler's portrait of his nephew 'Little Arthur' was probably drawn during the same sitting or shortly after in late 1857 or early 1858 when the boy was five years old. Both etchings show an influence of Rembrandt's etched portraits. These etchings mark the beginning of several years of close collaboration between Whistler and Haden.
Little Arthur was published with the Douze eaux-fortes d'apres Nature (Twelve Etchings from Nature), known as the French Set, in November 1858 and were the exception as Whistler's early portrait etchings were printed in only one or two impressions, on old laid paper and were probably only intended for the artists own reference or for family members. It reflects how Whistler must have seen them as exceptional among his early work.
James Abbott Mc Neill Whistler PRBA (1834-1903):
As a painter, etcher and lithographer Whistler is undoubtedly one of the great masters of the nineteenth century. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts he entered West Point Military Academy in 1851 but left to work as a cartographer for the Navy where he studied etching. In 1855 he went to Paris and came under the influence of Courbet and Manet. In 1859 he moved to London and completed his masterful Thames Set of etchings. Whistler's colourful personality led him to feud, most notably with John Ruskin and Oscar Wilde. He had many imitators including Walter Greaves and Mortimer Mempes. He exhibited in London at the Royal Academy, Society of British Artists, Grosvenor Gallery and elsewhere.