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The Japanese Dress

Impression: Library of Congress
Library of Congress
(FP-XIX-W576, no. 337)
Number: 371
Date: 1887
Medium: etching
Size: 100 x 68 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 2
Catalogues: K.337; M.335
Impressions taken from this plate  (2)


clothing, dress, fashion, model, Japanese, reading, woman seated.


There are few references to this etching but both Whistler's and published titles vary only a little:

'The Japanese Dress' (1887, Whistler). 2
'Girl Reading[,] Japanese. Dress' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 3
'The Japanese Gown' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 4
'The Japanese Dress' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 5

Whistler's original title, 'The Japanese Dress' was accepted by Mansfield and later cataloguers.

2: Whistler to T. McLean, 12 December 1887, GUW #13017.

3: List, [1890/1892], GUW #12715.

4: Envelope containing copper plate, University of Glasgow.

5: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 335).


A young woman with her hair mostly covered by a scarf wound round her head, wearing a wide-sleeved robe decorated with oriental patterns, sits on a wooden chair. She faces to the right and is reading a newspaper. Some drapery hangs behind her.


Not identified. The model is clearly European, in a studio setting, reading a local newspaper. It is possible the model is one of the Pettigrew sisters, Rose Amy Pettigrew (b. 1872) or Lilian Pettigrew (b. 1870).


Etching: c_K337_01
The Arabian m1273, chalk and pastel, 1890/1892,
The Hunterian, GLAHA 46149 .

The same title but not the same subject is seen in a pastel, The Japanese Dress m1227. Whistler collected kimono and oriental embroideries for dressing up his models and his studio. The robe - or one very like it - appears in full colour in the pastels The Japanese Dress m1227 and The Arabian m1273 (which is reproduced above), and similar oriental robes in several pastels dating from about 1888-1892 including The Embroidered Robe m1224, A masked woman m1225, Design for a Mosaic m1226 and The Fortune Teller. 6 It is also represented in a lithograph, dating from 1892/1893, reproduced below.

6: r.: The Fortune Teller; v.: A nude lying on a sofa m1274.

Etching: c_K337_02
Draped Model, Standing by a Sofa c075, Lithograph, 1892/1893,
The Hunterian, University of Glasgow (49225).