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Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 130
Date: 1874
Medium: etching
Size: 126 x 74 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: Fine Art Society
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 10
Catalogues: K.112; M.111; W.98
Impressions taken from this plate  (10)
This etching almost certainly dates from the summer of 1874 or the spring of 1875, although Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) wrote 'Done about 1873'. 1

Tatting is probably related to studies of Frances Leyland (1834-1910), and family, and may have been drawn in London or at the Leyland's rented house, Speke Hall. Whistler, the 'Eternal Guest', invited himself to Speke in January 1874. 2

He was at Speke during the summer and autumn of 1874 and again in the spring of 1875, working on portraits of the Leyland girls. 3 In London, he completed and exhibited Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland y106 in 1874.

On 5 May 1874 Whistler wrote from 2 Lindsey Houses in Chelsea to Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876):

1: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 111).

2: Whistler to F. Leyland, [1/6 January 1874?], GUW #10867.

3: See Whistler to C. Flower, [July/August 1874]; A. M. Whistler to E. Eastwick, 8, 9, 23 and 29 September 1874, and to F. Leyland, 12 May [1875]; GUW #09093, #11843, #08181.

'You know how great a prisoner I am just now with my work and so I am going to impose upon your good nature and ask you to help me as I think you will readily - I want a small plate ready prepared for my new etching - will you get me one - and your brother Percy might prepare it - or Delâtre will - but I require it at once - and perhaps I had better have two - about the size of quarter of this sheet of paper - that is half this page - No that is too large - the size of the envelope - will do exactly ... And can your brother perhaps manage it for me by tomorrow' . 4

The assistants suggested by Whistler were Percy Thomas (1846-1922), and Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907). Whistler seems here to be rather lazy about preparing copper plates himself. The size indicated would be about 127 x 75mm or less. Reading a Book 112, Tatting, The Muff 131 and Resting 111 are all contenders, being close to this size.
When publishing Tatting in 1880, Messrs Dowdeswell described it as 'new', but this was not true (and Whistler had been in Venice for several months at that time). 5

5: Brochure, [January 1880], GUW #02856.