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Trees in a Park

Impression: Whereabouts unknown
Whereabouts unknown
Number: 31
Date: 1858/1859
Medium: etching
Size: 200 x 124 mm
Signed: 'J. A. Whistler' and 'F. S. Haden' in reverse at lower right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 0
Catalogues: K.2; M.App. 3; T.-
Impressions taken from this plate  (0)
Girl in a Wood is estimated to date from late 1858 or early 1859.
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) considered that this was the first etching Whistler made after he arrived in Europe in 1855. This would suggest a date of 1856 or 1857, well before the publication of the 'French Set' in 1858. Kennedy's assumption was presumably made on the basis of the dual authorship, the etching being the result of the only known collaboration between Whistler and Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910). 1

1: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 2).

However, the technique and draughtsmanship involved do not confirm this. The technique of Whistler's earliest etchings, such as Au Sixičme 003 and Portrait of Whistler 005, with their dramatic lighting and closely worked cross-hatching, is very different from the use of short, light, broken lines in this etching.
In November 1858 Haden and Whistler were taught some of the basic principles of printing etchings by Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907). They experimented on a number of portraits of the Haden family, and scenes in Chelsea. Girl in a Wood may have been one of the results of their collaboration.
In Girl in a Wood, some branches are bare, and the girl is wearing layers of warm clothes, suggesting that the etching dates from a wintry season. It is possible, given the subject and technique, that it dates from the winter of 1858 or early 1859. Lochnan dates it 1859. 2 It shows holly trees, which might imply a Christmas subject. A portrait of Haden's son, Seymour 030, shows a similar technique and rather stiff pose, but the foliage suggests a date in autumn 1858 or spring 1859 - that is, shortly before or shortly after Girl in a Wood.

2: Lochnan 1984[more], p. 278 (no. 36).

In 1859 Haden produced the first landscapes that are definitely attributed to him, such as Thames Fishermen. Salaman commented:
'How freshly [Haden's] instinctive etcher's draughtsmanship discovered with searching line pictorial beauty in tree-trunks and stems, interlacing branches and foliage with the sunlight shimmering through them, we see for the first time in the charming little Kensington Gardens. Then, in a little plate Trees in the Park, which is recorded in both the Haden and Whistler catalogues and bears their joint names, though in his extreme old age Haden had quite forgotten it, there can be little doubt that it was he who drew the trees while Whistler probably put in the figure of the girl standing in their midst.' 3
Salaman may be correct but really it is impossible to distinguish the work of the two artists in Girl in a Wood.