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Reading by Lamplight

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 37
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 161 x 120 mm
Signed: 'J. Whistler' at lower right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 40
Catalogues: K.32; M.30; T.24; W.25
Impressions taken from this plate  (40)
Reading by Lamplight probably dates from December 1858 or January 1859.
It is the first etching specifically mentioned by Whistler, in a letter to Deborah Delano Haden (1825-1908), after Christmas at the Haden's house in Sloane Street. Writing after his return to Paris on 12 January 1859, he said:
'I'm working hard and my stay in London with you and Seymour has done me an immense good in "my art" ... My etchings have been very much admired, and I wish Seymour would send me three fine proofs of each in black ink. ... Tell Seymour to send me with the etchings, a proof of the one of yourself.' 1

1: Whistler to D. Haden, [12/30 January 1859], GUW #01913.

Whistler and Deborah's husband, Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910), had learned to print etchings from Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907). The two brothers-in-law etched and printed portraits of family members. Whistler also etched Deborah in a group portrait, with Haden and Haden's partner James Reeves Traer (ca 1834- d.1867), in The Music Room [39].
Delâtre may have taken the copper plate back to Paris, for on 29 June [1859] Haden asked the printer if Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) could bring the plate of 'La dame lisant' back to London. 2

2: GUW #13140.