Auguste Delâtre, Printer

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 28
Date: 1858/1859
Medium: etching
Size: 84 x 56 mm
Signed: 'J. Whistler.' at upper right
Inscribed: 'Homage / à Mme. Delatre.' at upper right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 24
Catalogues: K.26; M.26; T.14; W.21
Impressions taken from this plate  (24)


cancelled plate, head, man, portrait, printer.


The sitter's name appears in various forms in titles:

'Delâtre, the Printer' (1874, Whistler). 2
'Portrait of Delátre, the Printer' (1874, James Anderson Rose (1819-1890)). 3
'Auguste Delâtre' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)). 4
'Portrait of Delatre / the printer' (1890s, Whistler). 5
'August Delâtre' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 6

'Auguste Delâtre, Printer' is the title chosen, which combines the sitter's name and profession.

2: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 4).

3: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 476).

4: Thomas 1874 (cat. no. 14).

5: Inscribed on Graphic with a link to impression #K0260104.

6: Envelope containing copper plate, Hunterian Art Gallery.


The head and shoulders of a man with a moustache and pointed beard (which Mansfield calls 'an imperial', facing three-quarters left, looking at the artist. He is wearing a skullcap, and a shirt with pointed collar under a jacket. The light is coming from front right, casting shadows to left and behind the figure.


Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907). He was one of the leaders of the Aquafortiste movement, encouraging etching as an original, rather than reproductive art. He printed and published the 'French Set' for Whistler, and instructed Whistler in the art and craft of printing.
The etching was a personal tribute to Whistler's teacher and mentor, and is affectionately dedicated to his wife, with the words, 'Homage / a Mme Delatre'. This is one of only two etching that are dedicated on the plate by Whistler, the other being Merton Villa, Chelsea [381], which was dedicated 'To Trix' , his future wife, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896). In addition, Whistler sometimes wrote dedications on impressions of etchings, and, some years later, he inscribed an impression of The Storm 'A mon ami Delâtre / Whistler' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0810105).


An etched portrait of the master printer and printmaker reproduced by Bailly-Herzberg shows a rather more cadaverous Delâtre, with hollow, shadowed eyes, against a darkened background. 7

7: J. Bailly-Herzberg, 'French Etching in the 1860's', Art Journal, 31, no. 4, Summer 1972, pp. 382-386.

Comparative image
© Trustees of the British Museum.
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911) etched a full face portrait of Delâtre in the early 1870s, reproduced above, giving him a rather nervous expression, and emphasizing his broad brow, deep-set eyes, long nose and pointed beard. 8

8: Etching & drypoint, 1870s, British Museum 1949,0411.2221; (accessed 2011).