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Whistler's Mother

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 103
Date: 1871
Medium: drypoint
Size: 256 x 156 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 20
Catalogues: K.97; M.99; W.88
Impressions taken from this plate  (20)


full-length, portrait, mother, woman standing.


The sitter is known so there are few variations on the title:

'Mrs. Whistler' (1877, Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890)). 2
'Whistler's Mother' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 3

Both these titles are equally valid but since Howell's title could be taken to apply to Whistler's wife or sister-in-law as well as to his mother, Wedmore's title, Whistler's Mother, avoids confusion.

2: Howell to Whistler, [6-15 November 1877], GUW #02178.

3: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 88).


An elderly lady stands turning to the right, looking toward the viewer, her head slightly bent forward and to right. Her right arm is by her side, the hand not visible. Her left hand is extended as if resting on a table. She wears a cap with long dark ribbons, on the back of her head, and her dark hair is parted in the middle. She has small caps at the top of her sleeves, a wide v-shaped neckline over a high necked blouse, fitted waist and long skirt.


Etching: c_K097_01
Anna McNeill Whistler, 1870s, photograph.
Whistler Collection, Glasgow University Library, Special Collections.
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881). She posed shortly after this for the famous portrait, Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother y101.