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Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 108
Date: 1873/1877
Medium: drypoint
Size: 280 x 190 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 18
Catalogues: K.136; M.134; W.110
Impressions taken from this plate  (18)
Swinburne dates from between 1873 and 1877. Whistler and Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) were close friends and there were frequent opportunities for meeting at Whistler's house or that of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882).
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) thought the first state showed Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), and commented:
'That Whistler originally intended this dry-point as a portrait of F. R. Leyland, is quite plain. Possibly after the famous quarrel, he altered it to that of Swinburne - not very successfully. Both impressions are extremely rare.' 1
This would suggest that it was started in the early 1870s and altered after 1876, which is possible, but the portrait does not really look much like Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), and the date is by no means certain. By 1877 Whistler was definitely calling it 'Swinburne.' 2

2: Whistler to C. A. Howell, 24 Nov.-8 Dec. [1877], GUW #12742.

The size of the copper plate suggests it was the same date as another portrait, which is also difficult to date, A Man Reading 107.