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Lady standing

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 170
Date: 1876/1884
Medium: mezzotint
Size: 272 x 150 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 2
Catalogues: K.-; M.-; T.-; W.-
Impressions taken from this plate  (2)
Lady standing is extremely difficult to date, partly because it is difficult to see, and partly because of conflicting evidence. It could date from as early as 1876 or as late as 1896.
Whistler is known to have considered working in mezzotint in 1875, when reproductions of his oil portraits were produced by Frederick Goulding (1842-1909). 1 In 1885, there is a single reference to Whistler working on a mezzotint, but no impression of this subject survives (Trafalgar Square 249). There are two extant mezzotints, one of which may date from between 1883 and 1886 (The Model 248).

1: Hopkinson 1998[more].

Hopkinson suggested that Lady standing was a portrait of Maud Franklin (1857- ca 1941), comparable to the oil painting, Arrangement in White and Black y185, dated 1876, as well as the etching, Maud, Standing 169, which was worked on between 1876 and 1878, and the 1878 lithograph, Study c003. 2 The dress is also quite like that in an oil painting, Harmony in Black and Red y236, suggesting a slightly later date, of 1881/1882.

2: Ibid., p. 400.

In fact, looking at the style of dress, certain dates can be eliminated: the skirt has no bustle and is flared, but not full, and has no frills, so that a date of 1883/1884 seems unlikely. Furthermore, the sleeves are narrow, not the Leg o'mutton sleeves of 1893-1895. But if the woman was not wearing fashionable dress, but perhaps a walking or riding dress, then it becomes more dificult to date.
Nathaniel Sparks (1880-1956), who printed some impressions from the copper plates left in Whistler's studio at his death, suggested tentatively that Lady standing might have been a portrait of 'Mrs Whibley'. 3 Ethel Whibley (1861-1920) was posing for Whistler from the time of his marriage to her sister in 1888 until the turn of the century. She posed, for instance, for Gants de suède c035 in 1890, Harmony in Brown: The Felt Hat y395 in 1891 and Harmony in Black: Portrait of Miss Ethel Philip y419 in 1894. From this point of view a date around 1890 is perfectly viable. Unfortunately Sparks is not a totally reliable source, and seems in this case to have had some doubts about the identification of the sitter.

3: Martin Hopkinson, 'Nathaniel Spark's Printing of Whistler's Etchings', Print Quarterly, 1999, Vol. XVI, 4, p. 340.

The drawing under the woman, seen faintly when the image is turned upside down, shows a semi-circular small-paned window; and is not unlike windows drawn and painted by Whistler in France in the late 1880s and 1890s, such as Green and Gold: A Shop in Calais y474. However, it is very hard to see it and hardly conclusive.