The Piano

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 144
Date: 1875-1877
Medium: drypoint and open bite
Size: 236 x 160 mm
Signed: butterfly at left (3-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 7
Known impressions: 26
Catalogues: K.141; M.139; W.117
Impressions taken from this plate  (26)


interior, model, music, piano, woman seated.


There are several minor variations in the title, as follows:

'The piano' (1870s, Whistler). 2
'Girl at the piano - Miss Greaves' (1875, Whistler). 3
'The Piano' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 4
'At the Piano // Tilly Greaves' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 5
'The Piano' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 6

'The Piano' is Whistler's original title and that generally accepted by later cataloguers.

2: Written on Graphic with a link to impression #K1410201

3: Whistler to W. C. Alexander, [March/April 1875?], GUW #07573.

4: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 117).

5: List, [1890/1892], GUW #12715.

6: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 139).


A young woman sits facing to the left, playing a piano. Her fair hair is pulled up into a bun and tied with black ribbons. She is wearing a dark, glossy dress with close fitting bodice, and full skirt gathered in at the waist. There are shadows on the walls behind her.


Alice Fay Greaves (b. 1852). Whistler identified the sitter as 'Girl at the piano - Miss Greaves'. 7

Whistler made two drawings of her as studies for this drypoint, both of which are known as At the Piano. One was inscribed on the verso, 'This drawing by J. McN. Whistler was done in chalk as a study for the drypoint 'The Piano' / Ernest G. Brown' (that is, Ernest George Brown (1853/1854-1915) of the Fine Art Society). 8 The other drawing is now in the Art Institute of Chicago. 9

7: Whistler to W. C. Alexander, [March/April 1875], GUW #07573.

8: At the piano [m0538] (private collection).

9: At the piano [m0539].


This is one of several images of people playing music (The Music Room [39], J. Becquet, Sculptor [62], The Guitar Player (M.W. Ridley) [124] and Ross Winans [72]).