J. Becquet, Sculptor
|Medium:||etching and drypoint|
|Size:||257 x 194 mm|
|Set/Publication:||'Thames Set', 1871|
|No. of States:||6|
|Catalogues:||K.52; M.52; T.54; W.48|
|Impressions taken from this plate (96)|
'Becquet, sculptor' (1861, V&A). 2
'The Fiddler' (1871, Ellis & Green). 3
'Monsieur Becgio' [sic] (1863, Royal Academy). 4
'Portrait of Mons. Becquet, sculptor' (1874, Pall Mall Galleries). 5
'The Cello Player' (1875, Cincinnati). 6
'Becquet. The Violocellist' (1881, Wunderlich's). 7
'Becquet' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 8
'Portrait of Becquet' (1893, Chicago). 9
'Becquet' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 10
'J. Becquet, sculptor' (2009, Whistler Etching Project)
Whistler's original title, 'The Fiddler', as published in the 'Thames Set' would normally be the one used in the catalogue raisonné. However, it is misleading, since the subject is a man playing the cello, not a fiddle, and so early American exhibition catalogues corrected it to 'The Cello Player' or 'The Violocellist'.
Despite his musical abilities, Becquet was actually a sculptor, and the first title recorded for this etching is 'Becquet, sculptor', a title probably provided by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) when selling an impression in 1861. Similarly the title 'Portrait of Mons. Becquet, sculptor' was used at Whistler's first one-man exhibition in 1874. 'J. Becquet, sculptor' identifies the sitter clearly, and is the preferred title.
2: 1 January 1861, V&A Register of Prints, p. 32.
3: A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on The Thames.
4: London RA 1863 (cat. no. 990).
5: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 21).
6: Cincinnati 1875 (cat. no. 253).
7: New York 1881 (cat. no. 69).
8: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 48).
9: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2221).
10: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 52).
Mansfield wrote: 'Becquet was a sculptor, in Paris, of musical tastes and accomplishments.' 12 Whistler's etching shows Becquet in musical rather than sculptural occupation. The New York Sun commented 'Becquet - the inspired head of Becquet, who probably rasped on the finger board of his violincello - what a goodly picture Whistler left the world of him.' 13
Becquet was a considerable sculptor, a landscape painter, and a good musician, an enthusiast for the works of Beethoven, Schubert, Bach and other great composers. In 1895 he made a statue entitled La Voix du violencelle (a standing female nude playing the cello). He had a studio in the rue Vaugirard. 14
Henri Léon Greber sculpted a bust of Becquet in 1903. 15 A bust of Becquet is displayed at the entrance to the Parc Micaud, Besançon. 16
It is possible that Whistler's friend Becquet was related to the Becquet frères who printed lithographs in Paris from around 1830 on, including caricatures and political satires, theatrical and biblical subjects, city- and land-scapes. 17
12: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 52).
13: Anon., 'Art Notes', The Sun, New York, 5 January 1909 (GUL PC19/11).
14: A. Estignard, Just Becquet. Sa vie, ses oeuvres, Besançon, 1922, pp. 2, 56, 79 et seq.
15: Manufacture National de Sèvres, France. See www.mossonline.com (accessed 2011).
16: www.cpa-besancon.fr/fiches/ carte-besancon... (accessed 2011).
17: i.e. Auguste Bouquet's musical satire on the monarchy, 1833, La Caricature, No. 152, Pl. 317, B.M. 1989,0128.27; Honoré Daumier, 'Mr Guiz..' 1833, La Caricature, No. 162, Pl. 340, B.M. 11,1221.2; Bibical series, i.e. BM 1981,U.56-134; Adolphe Hervier, Baraque, 1852, BM 1925,1013.69; http://www.britishmuseum.org (accessed 2012).