La Mère Gérard, Stooping

Impression: New York Public Library
New York Public Library
Number: 25
Date: 1858
Medium: etching
Size: 105 x 64 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 1
Catalogues: K.12; M.14; T.32; W.10
Impressions taken from this plate  (1)


age, model, portrait, woman standing.


There are very few variations in the title:

'La Mère Gerard' (1870s, Whistler). 1
'La Mère Gérard' (1881, Caxton Club). 2
'La Mère Gérard, Stooping' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 3
'La mère Gérard Stooping' (1891/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 4

Wedmore's title ('La Mère Gérard, Stooping') was adopted by later cataloguers, avoiding confusion with La Mère Gérard [24].

1: Written on Graphic with a link to impression #K0120101.

2: New York 1881 (cat. no. 14).

3: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 10).

4: List, GUW #12715.


An old woman is bent over, looking at the ground. She appears to be standing on grass, in full sun, with her shadow extending to the right. She is wearing a shoulder cape that reaches her waist, a long apron over her full skirt, and a pointed hood or scarves, and she holds a shopping bag in her right hand.
Mansfield described her as: 'A quaint elderly Frenchwoman wearing an apron, a cape and a pointed hood ... walking toward the front, slightly stooping and with head bent forward. In her right hand she carries a satchel.' 5

5: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 14).


Mèrard Gérard (fl. 1810-1860). One impression of this etching was annotated '"La Mère Gérard" -' in pencil by Whistler (Graphic with a link to impression #K0120101).
It is one of two etched portraits of the old lady (see La Mère Gérard [24]). In La Mère Gérard, Stooping she looks older and more fragile than in the better known etching of her, where she appears a sturdy, independent figure.


This was etched in France, either in or just outside Paris. The Pennells recorded a trip made by Whistler and his elderly model to the country:
'She was very picturesque, as she sat huddled up on the steps, and he got her to pose for him many times ... Once, Lalouette invited all his clients to spend a day with him in the country, and Whistler accepted on condition that he could bring La Mère Gérard. She arrived, got up in great style, sat at his side in the carriage when they all drove off together, and grew livelier as the day went on. He painted her in the course of the afternoon, the portrait was a success, and he promised it to her, but first took it back to the studio to finish. Then he fell ill and was sent to England.' 6

6: Pennell 1908, vol. 1, p. 57.


In his youth, Whistler admired the caricatures of Paul Gavarni (1804-1866), and drew studies that were inspired by them. 7 The wood engraving of Le Bas-bleu, from Gavarni's Les Français peints par lui-mêmes (Paris, 1840-42), a possible inspiration for La Mère Gérard [24], is also closely linked to La Mère Gérard, Stooping.

He had long been interested in drawing character studies of elderly women. 8 Furthermore, drawings done during Whistler's early student years in France include sketches of women of all ages, drawn on the street, 9 and life-studies, possibly done in the studio, such as Standing figure of an old woman [m0275], and Profile sketch of an old woman, standing [m0276]. These contain elements both of caricature and realism.

7: 'Vive les Débardeurs!!' [m0133], r.: Mrs Tiffany; v.: Head [m0152].

8: i.e. Lady with a parasol [m0153].

9: i.e. r.: Les Côtes à Dieppe; v.: Cliffs and building [m0222] and r.: A group of figures on an esplanade; v.: Boy [m0223].