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Whistler with a hat

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 44
Date: 1859
Medium: drypoint
Size: 229 x 154 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: '1859.' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 36
Catalogues: K.54; M.54; T.65; W.52
Impressions taken from this plate  (36)


hat, head, man, self-portrait, straw hat.


Several versions of Whistler's name and other details have been used to distinguish this self-portrait from others:

'James A Whistler' (1861, V&A). 1
'Paris - Whistler - by himself -' (1870s, Whistler). 2
'James Abbott MacNeill Whistler' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)). 3
'Portrait of James Abbott McNeill Whistler' (1874, James Anderson Rose (1819-1890)). 4
'Whistler, with a large hat' (1881, Union League Club). 5
'Whistler' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 6
'votre portrait dit au grand chapeau' (trans., 'your portrait ... with the big hat') (1887, Edmond Gosselin (1849-1917)). 7
'Whistler ... Hat on' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 8
'Whistler's Portrait' (1901, Glasgow). 9
'Whistler in the hat' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 10
'Portrait of Whistler' (1910, Kennedy) . 11
'Whistler with a hat' (2009, Whistler Etching Project).

The earliest title, 'James A Whistler' was probably provided by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) when selling the drypoint to the Victoria & Albert Museum. At that time it was certainly accurate, given that the artist was christened 'James Abbott Whistler'. Ralph Thomas's title reflects a later version of his name, which appears in certain legal documents from 1866 onwards. After his mother's death in 1881, the artist signed himself 'James McNeill Whistler'.

Avoiding the complexities of baptismal and adopted names, several writers focussed on the broad-brimmed hat worn by the artist. The preferred title, 'Whistler with a hat' distinguishes this portrait from other self-portraits.

1: 1 January 1861, V&A Register of Prints, p. 32.

2: Written on .

3: Thomas 1874[more] (cat. no. 65).

4: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 471).

5: New York 1881 (cat. no. 73).

6: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 52).

7: Gosselin to Whistler, 22 October 1887, GUW #01768

8: List, [1890/1892], #12715.

9: Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 230).

10: Envelope containing copper plate, Hunterian Art Gallery.

11: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 54).


A head and shoulders portrait of the artist drawing, facing the viewer. His hands are outlined roughly, one holding the copper plate and one, a long etching needle (he was drawing with his right hand but this appears reversed in the print). He is wearing a low-crowned straw hat with a ribbon dangling over the broad brim on the right. He has a full moustache, and short, bushy, curly hair. His dark cravat is tied at the neck under a small round collar, and he wears a loose white linen jacket. The light comes from the left and shadows fall behind and to right of the figure.


Etching: c_K054_01
Étienne Carjat, Photograph of Whistler, ca 1864,
Glasgow University Library, Special Collections.
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). In the early 1870s Whistler wrote on one impression, 'Paris - Whistler - by himself -' (). According to Whistler, this was etched in Paris (). This is one of five etched self-portraits (Portrait of Whistler 005, An Artist Sketching 023, Whistler with the White Lock 162 and Head of Whistler 318).