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Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 61
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 293 x 202 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right (3); replaced with new 'Whistler.' at lower right (4-final)
Inscribed: '1859 -' at lower right (3); replaced with new '1859.' at lower right (4-final)
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 14
Known impressions: 38
Catalogues: K.58; M.58; T.56; W.54
Impressions taken from this plate  (38)
The copper plate may have been started in Paris late in 1858, when Whistler was learning to etch under the tutelage of Auguste Delātre (1822-1907). On a visit to London in December 1858 Delātre also taught the etching process to Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910). It may be coincidental, but Haden owned a unique impression of the first state of this drypoint ().
The date '1859' was etched on the copper plate in the second state. The plate went through extensive reworkings with at least ten states before being cancelled, and was published with a set of Cancelled Etchings by The Fine Art Society in 1879.
The main work on the drypoint was probably carried out between January and July 1859. At the end of June 1859 Haden asked Delātre if Fantin Latour could bring to London a particular copper plate:
'La pointe seche d'une femme ą la fenetre ... aussi tirez nous 12 impressions de chaqu'une de ces planches excepter [sic] la pointe seche de Whistler.'
Translated: 'Drypoint of a woman at the window ... Also print for us 12 impressions of each of these plates except Whistler's drypoint.' 1
This is the first known reference to the drypoint. It is one of several portraits dating from the same year, including Bibi Valentin 034, Bibi Lalouette 033, Z. Astruc, Editor of 'L'Artiste' 036, Whistler with a hat 044, C. L. Drouet, Sculptor 035, Fumette standing 059 and Fumette's Bent Head 058.