Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 130
Date: 1874
Medium: etching
Size: 126 x 74 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: Fine Art Society
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 10
Catalogues: K.112; M.111; W.98
Impressions taken from this plate  (10)
This etching almost certainly dates from the summer of 1874 or the spring of 1875, although Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) wrote 'Done about 1873'. 1

Tatting is probably related to studies of Frances Leyland (1834-1910), and family, and may have been drawn in London or at the Leyland's rented house, Speke Hall. Whistler, the 'Eternal Guest', invited himself to Speke in January 1874. 2

He was at Speke during the summer and autumn of 1874 and again in the spring of 1875, working on portraits of the Leyland girls. 3 In London, he completed and exhibited Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland [y106] in 1874.

On 5 May 1874 Whistler wrote from 2 Lindsey Houses in Chelsea to Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876):

1: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 111).

2: Whistler to F. Leyland, [1/6 January 1874?], GUW #10867.

3: See Whistler to C. Flower, [July/August 1874]; A. M. Whistler to E. Eastwick, 8, 9, 23 and 29 September 1874, and to F. Leyland, 12 May [1875]; GUW #09093, #11843, #08181.

'You know how great a prisoner I am just now with my work and so I am going to impose upon your good nature and ask you to help me as I think you will readily - I want a small plate ready prepared for my new etching - will you get me one - and your brother Percy might prepare it - or Delâtre will - but I require it at once - and perhaps I had better have two - about the size of quarter of this sheet of paper - that is half this page - No that is too large - the size of the envelope - will do exactly ... And can your brother perhaps manage it for me by tomorrow' . 4

The assistants suggested by Whistler were Percy Thomas (1846-1922), and Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907). Whistler seems here to be rather lazy about preparing copper plates himself. The size indicated would be about 127 x 75mm or less. Reading a Book [112], Tatting, The Muff [131] and Resting [111] are all contenders, being close to this size.

4: [5 May 1874], GUW #13681.

When publishing Tatting in 1880, Messrs Dowdeswell described it as 'new', but this was not true (and Whistler had been in Venice for several months at that time). 5

5: Brochure, [January 1880], GUW #02856.