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The Desk

Impression: British Museum
British Museum
Number: 129
Date: 1874/1876
Medium: drypoint
Size: 216 x 139 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 6
Catalogues: K.133; M.131; W.104
Impressions taken from this plate  (6)


dress, fashion, model, portrait, woman seated.


It has always been known by the same title, as in the following examples:

'The desk' (1880s, possibly by Whistler). 1
'The Desk' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 2
'The Desk' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 3

1: Written on

2: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 104).

3: Envelope containing plate, University of Glasgow.


A young woman, body turned to the left, faces front, her left arm hanging by her side, and her right arm resting upon a desk. She is wearing a dark, close fitting dress, with slightly puffed sleeves, the low neck showing a high-necked white blouse with a small ruffle or narrow trim at the neck. She has her hair drawn back, and cut in a fringe over her forehead. There is shading in the background.


Possibly Maud Franklin (1857- ca 1941). The model's appearance changes considerably between the first and third state, so Whistler may have used two models.