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Auguste Delâtre, Printer

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
(1898.242)
Number: 28
Date: 1858/1859
Medium: etching
Size: 84 x 56 mm
Signed: 'J. Whistler.' at upper right
Inscribed: 'Homage / à Mme. Delatre.' at upper right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 24
Catalogues: K.26; M.26; T.14; W.21
Impressions taken from this plate  (24)

KEYWORD

cancelled plate, head, man, portrait, printer.

TITLE

The sitter's name appears in various forms in titles:


'Deltre, the Printer' (1874, Whistler). 2
'Portrait of Deltre, the Printer' (1874, James Anderson Rose (1819-1890)). 3
'Auguste Deltre' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)). 4
'Portrait of Delatre / the printer' (1890s, Whistler). 5
'August Deltre' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 6


'Auguste Deltre, Printer' is the title chosen, which combines the sitter's name and profession.

2: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 4).

3: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 476).

4: Thomas 1874[more] (cat. no. 14).

5: Inscribed on .

6: Envelope containing copper plate, Hunterian Art Gallery.

DESCRIPTION

The head and shoulders of a man with a moustache and pointed beard (which Mansfield calls 'an imperial', facing three-quarters left, looking at the artist. He is wearing a skullcap, and a shirt with pointed collar under a jacket. The light is coming from front right, casting shadows to left and behind the figure.

SITTER

Auguste Deltre (1822-1907). He was one of the leaders of the Aquafortiste movement, encouraging etching as an original, rather than reproductive art. He printed and published the 'French Set' for Whistler, and instructed Whistler in the art and craft of printing.
The etching was a personal tribute to Whistler's teacher and mentor, and is affectionately dedicated to his wife, with the words, 'Homage / a Mme Delatre'. This is one of only two etching that are dedicated on the plate by Whistler, the other being Merton Villa, Chelsea 381, which was dedicated 'To Trix' , his future wife, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896). In addition, Whistler sometimes wrote dedications on impressions of etchings, and, some years later, he inscribed an impression of The Storm 'A mon ami Deltre / Whistler' ().

DISCUSSION

An etched portrait of the master printer and printmaker reproduced by Bailly-Herzberg shows a rather more cadaverous Deltre, with hollow, shadowed eyes, against a darkened background. 7

7: J. Bailly-Herzberg, 'French Etching in the 1860's', Art Journal, 31, no. 4, Summer 1972, pp. 382-386.

Etching: c_K026_01
Trustees of the British Museum.
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911) etched a full face portrait of Deltre in the early 1870s, reproduced above, giving him a rather nervous expression, and emphasizing his broad brow, deep-set eyes, long nose and pointed beard. 8

8: Etching & drypoint, 1870s, British Museum 1949,0411.2221; http://www.britishmuseum.org (accessed 2011).