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La Mère Gérard

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 24
Date: 1858
Medium: etching
Size: 129 x 90 mm
Signed: 'Whistler - ' at lower left (2-final)
Inscribed: 'Imp. Delatre. Rue St. Jacques. 171.' at lower centre (4)
Set/Publication: 'French Set', 1858
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 53
Catalogues: K.11; M.13; T.6; W.9
Impressions taken from this plate  (53)


Whistler began this plate with the figure and then built up and refined the shading around her, reducing lines as well as adding them. This is evident in many impressions of the third and fourth states, where scraping marks are visible among the shading to left and right of the figure, and burnished areas read as lighter streaks, particularly on the left.
Thomas described La Mre Grard as 'a most delicious specimen of etching'. 11

11: Thomas 1874[more] (cat. no. 6).


Over fifty impressions are recorded. The first cleanly printed early proofs, bright and sharp in line, are in black ink on off-white wove card, both for the first (, ) and second () state. These are very rare, as is the third state, where Whistler apparently tried out a dark brown ink (see , ) as well as black ink ().
Over thirty impressions of the published fourth state are known, the majority printed in black ink on thin Japanese paper in shades from off-white (), ivory (, ), cream () to tan (), in all cases laid down on wove paper. A minority are printed directly on wove paper () and rather more on laid paper (for example, , ), one with a 'DURHAM & CO' watermark (), and a Strasbourg Lily ().