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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)


clothing, dress, fashion, full-length, portrait, woman standing.


The title appears to have remained consistent, as in these examples:

'The little Velvet dress' (1873, Whistler). 2
'The Little Velvet Dress' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 3

2: Written on .

3: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 92).


The standing full-length figure of a woman, facing to right, with her right hand held well in front of her. She has blonde hair pulled up tightly and gathered into a bun on top of her head. She wears a dark dress, with material, possibly a bow, gathered up behind her hips. The dress has a fitted bodice, and a ruffle about the neck and down the front. There is a curtain and dado in the background, and shadows fall on the wall behind her.


Alice Fay Greaves (b. 1852). She posed in a similar dress for a crayon and chalk drawing, A lady standing: Tinnie Greaves m0420. According to Walter Greaves (1846-1930), Whistler 'was continually making sketches of my sister 'Tinnie', ... he used to say that she had such a wonderfully shaped head.' 4

4: Exh. cat., London, Goupil, 1922, pp. 17-18 (cat. no. 10).

The same dress, partly concealed by a fur coat, may appear in another drawing, The Ermine Coat m0419. Both drawings have been dated some time between 1871 and 1873. 5

5: Freer Gallery of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art.