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Little Arthur

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 8
Date: 1857/1858
Medium: etching
Size: 81 x 54 (K5) 57 x 48 mm
Signed: 'J.W.' at lower left (1-3); 'Whistler' at lower right (2-3); removed (4); 'Whistler' at lower left (4).
Inscribed: 'Imp. Delatre. Rue. St. Jacques. 171.' at lower left (3)
Set/Publication: 'French Set', 1858
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 61
Catalogues: K.9; M.7; T.8; W.13
Impressions taken from this plate  (61)


boy, child, portrait.


Most - but not all - catalogues, cataloguers, and Whistler himself called this 'Little Arthur', as in the following examples:

'Little Arthur' (1858, Whistler). 3
'Little Arthur' (1870s, Whistler). 4
'Little Arthur, seated' (1872, British Museum). 5 'Little Arthur' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)). 6
'Arthur Haden' (1881, Union League Club). 7
'Little Arthur' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 8

Although the boy's full name was 'Arthur Haden', it is clear that 'Little Arthur' was Whistler's original title, and was adopted by the majority of later cataloguers.

3: Douze eaux-fortes d'après Nature.

4: Written on .

5: B.M. Register of Purchases ... 1872.

6: Thomas 1874[more] (cat. no. 8).

7: New York 1881 (cat. nos. 18, 19).

8: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 7).


A young boy, with shoulder length hair falling about his face, sits facing front, his hands in his lap and his knees apart, with his feet resting on a fur rug. He is wearing a short dark dress, a jacket with a lace collar, and slippers. The light comes from the left, throwing a shadow to the right.


On one impression, Whistler identified the boy as 'Arthur Haden' (). Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910) was the younger son of Whistler's half-sister Deborah Delano Haden (1825-1908) and Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910). This is one of a series of portraits of their children by Whistler, which includes Seymour, Standing 010, Annie Haden with Books 006, and Annie 007.


The etching by Charles-Emile Jacque (1813-1894), Portrait de ma petite fille, bears close comparison with Whistler's study of his young nephew. It is on a small plate, slightly larger (84 x 62 mm) than Little Arthur (81 x 54 mm). The linear technique, with a combination of short lines, dots and cross-hatching, and the lighting, coming from the right so that much of the face is shadowed, as well as the vignetting of the figure, are similar to those in Whistler's portrait. Both were printed by Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907), which emphasizes the visual similarities. 9

9: Guiffrey 155, British Museum 1889,0608.200; see