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The Little Velvet Dress

Impression: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Number: 119
Date: 1873
Medium: drypoint
Size: 166 x 122 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 27
Catalogues: K.106; M.106; W.92
Impressions taken from this plate  (27)
The Little Velvet Dress probably dates from 1873. Whistler wrote 'The little Velvet dress' and '73 -' for Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) on one impression (). It is not absolutely certain that this date was written at the time. However, the butterfly signature suggests a date of 1873 or 1874, and it is likely that this drypoint was exhibited in 1874. 1

Dating from Whistler's depiction of dress is tricky; this could date from 1873 or a little later. By 1875, although dresses still had prominent trains gathered in behind the waist, skirts were gathered in tightly at the front, making walking and sitting difficult.

1: Possibly London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. nos. 6 or 22, et seq.) 'Dry Point, Portrait'.