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Sleeping Girl

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 127
Date: 1874/1875
Medium: drypoint
Size: 139 x 217 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left (2-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 9
Catalogues: K.125; M.122; W.112
Impressions taken from this plate  (9)


Vividly drawn in drypoint, with small areas of shading added lightly in drypoint in later states; this quickly faded and it was printed as a very delicate, rather ethereal study of a child.


There may have been a print-run of ten or twelve in Whistler's lifetime. An impression of the first state was printed in black ink on ivory laid paper with the elaborate 'DEDB' and beehive watermark (Graphic with a link to impression #K1250102). Impressions of later states were printed in black, mostly on laid paper including ivory 'antique' (pre-1800) paper (Graphic with a link to impression #K1250203), one sheet with an Arms of Amsterdam watermark (Graphic with a link to impression #K1250204) and another with a countermark, possibly 'HGH' (Graphic with a link to impression #K1250202); and also dark ivory paper with the 'Pro Patria' watermark (Graphic with a link to impression #K1250201). However one delicate impression was printed with burr in dark brown ink on light grey wove paper (Graphic with a link to impression #K1250z03).
On 18 June 1931 Nathaniel Sparks (1880-1956) sketched the plate and recorded 'Three proofs taken ... paper from his book with lines', meaning on paper originally owned by Whistler, and inherited by Miss Philip, who authorised the printing. 9 However, these three late impressions have not been located, and were probably destroyed.

9: Martin Hopkinson, 'Nathaniel Sparks's Printing of Whistler's Etchings', Print Quarterly, 1999, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 340, 342, 349.