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Two studies of women

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 271
Date: 1886/1887
Medium: drypoint
Size: 123 x 81 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 1
Catalogues: K.120; M.127
Impressions taken from this plate  (1)


head, nude, portrait, woman.


There are minor variations on the title for this drypoint but Whistler's original title is not known:

'Sketches of Two Heads' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 2
'Two slight sketches' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 3
'Two studies of women' (2010, Whistler Etching Project).

The published titles are not accurate. The drypoint does not show two heads, as Mansfield suggests, and the single head is not 'slight', as Kennedy suggests, rather it is very finely worked, although the plate is unfinished. 'Two studies of women' is a brief, descriptive title.

2: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 127).

3: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 120).


Near the top of the plate is a sketch of the head of a young woman with a fringe, facing front. The light comes from the right, casting shadows behind and to left. Upside down near the bottom of the plate is the torso of a nude woman.


Not identified. She looks a little like the sitter for The Little Hat 366 and also Helen Lenoir (1852-1913), who posed for The Fur Tippet: Miss Lenoir 365 in late 1886 or 1887.


These are mostly unfinished sketches and it is a little hard to tell if the style is Whistler's, because there is so little to go on. It was not recorded in Whistler's lifetime, before it appeared at Obach & Co. in London in 1904.