Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Subjects > Etchings > Etching


Impression: New York Public Library
New York Public Library
Number: 87
Date: 1861
Medium: drypoint
Size: 227 x 152 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: '1861.' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 25
Catalogues: K.77; M.77; T.60; W.64
Impressions taken from this plate  (25)


cancelled plate, hair, head, model, portrait, woman.


The name of the sitter, Joanna Hiffernan (b. ca 1843), usually figured in titles, under various spellings:

'Head of a Female' (1874, James Anderson Rose (1819-1890)). 1
'Joe' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)) 2
'"Jo"' (1894, Whistler). 3
'Jo' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 4

'Jo', the shortest version of the nickname, was used by Whistler, and was adopted by Mansfield and later cataloguers.

1: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 522).

2: Thomas 1874[more] (cat. no. 60).

3: Whistler to J. Pennell, [13 March 1894], GUW #07787.

4: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 77).


The head and shoulders of a young woman with long wavy hair falling from a central parting. She faces to the front, turned slightly to the left. She wears a high-necked, loose, plain dress or blouse. She is lit from the left, and the background is in shadow.


Etching: c_K077_01
Photograph of Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl y038.
Whistler Collection, Glasgow University Library, Special Collections.
Joanna Hiffernan (b. ca 1843). She posed at this time in Paris for an oil painting, Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl y038 (Whistler's photograph of this is reproduced above) - and other drypoints - Jo's Bent Head 088 and Brushing the Hair 094.
This is the most close-up, personal and vibrant of Whistler's portraits of Jo. Her long rippling red hair is prominent in another drypoint, Weary 093. Whistler delighted in her hair, as he told Fantin Latour:
'C'est des cheveux les plus beaux que tu n'aie jamais vu! d'un rouge non pas doré mais cuivré - comme tout ce qu'on a revé de Venitienne! - une peau blanche jaune ou dorée si tu veux - ' Translated: 'She has the most beautiful hair that you have ever seen! a red not golden but copper - as Venetian as a dream! - skin golden white or yellow if you will -' 5