Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Subjects > Etchings > Etching

La Vieille aux Loques

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 27
Date: 1858
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 207 x 147 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at lower right (2-final)
Inscribed: 'Imp. Delatre. Rue St. Jacques. 171.' (3); partly erased (4)
Set/Publication: 'French Set', 1858
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 113
Catalogues: K.21; M.21; T.9; W.14
Impressions taken from this plate  (113)


Drypoint additions in the first state might imply the existence of an earlier state in pure etching, but no such impression has been located; this suggests that Whistler checked over the plate and added minor drypoint corrections (along the door frame at upper right, completing the right side of the oval object and shading the hanging object that crosses it) before printing any proofs. There is a lot of foul biting, left to add texture to the external wall and door frame. A wide variety of long and short lines, and some bold zigzag lines are used, plus lightly etched fine lines for the details of face and hands, and on the kitchen pots and pans. Both regular shading and intricate cross-hatching was used throughout the composition in the second state to distinguish different areas in the dress of the woman and shadows of the interior.


Over a hundred impressions have been located. The earliest known impression was printed in black ink on off-white wove plate paper (). The second state was printed in black ink on off-white laid paper ().
Over forty impressions of the third state - that is, as published for the 'French Set' - have been located. Many are in black ink on different shades of chine collé including off-white (, ), ivory (), tan (), and grey (). There are also a few impressions in dark brown ink on various papers, including ivory chine appliqué () and cream laid Japan (); ivory wove (); a slightly greenish off-white 'modern' (post-1800) laid paper (); and pale green laid paper with a 'Moel Savon' watermark ().
Likewise impressions of the final, fourth, state vary in inking and paper. One is in dark brown ink on grey medium-weight rough-textured wove (). Many were printed in black ink on laid papers including off-white paper watermarked 'K MILTON MILL' (); rough-edged ivory paper, possibly from a book (); as well as thin (), thick () and medium-weight 'antique' (pre-1800) laid paper (). There are examples on pale green () and pale grey-blue laid paper (). There are also some in black ink on Asian papers including light grey China paper () and cream Japanese ().
A final edition of over 40 impressions may have been organised and sold by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912). Keppel gave an impression to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1894 () and bequeathed another as part of the 'Frederick Keppel Memorial' to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1912 ().