Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Subjects > Etchings > Etching

The Fan

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 375
Date: 1887/1888
Medium: etching
Size: 135 x 98 mm
Signed: butterfly to left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 2
Catalogues: K.345; M.343
Impressions taken from this plate  (2)


clothing, dancing, fan, model, nude, woman standing.


Variations on the title are as follows:

'The Fan' (1888, Whistler). 2
'The Fan' (1889, Whistler). 3
'Model Number Three' (1900, Caxton Club). 4
'Model with Fan' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 5
'The Fan (Model No. 3)' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 6

'The Fan' is the original and preferred title.

2: Whistler to T. McLean, 11 February 1888, GUW #13018.

3: List, 18 July 1889, GUW #13235.

4: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. E239).

5: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 343).

6: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 345).


A young woman stands on her left leg, her right leg pointing forwards and to left. She wears a patterned long-sleeved gown, which falls open to show her nude body. She stands with her head bent to right, her left hand hidden by the robe, and her right arm holding up a fan. There are numerous outlines around her face and hand, as if she is in movement.


Not identified. A similar semi-nude study of a model is reproduced below.
Etching: c_K345_01
A masked woman m1225, pastel, 1888/1889,
The Hunterian, University of Glasgow (46142).


Fans are prominent in Finette 061 and The Model Lying Down 110 and in lithographs such as The Fan c016. Whistler made some designs for fans or decorations for fans: Design for a fan m0392 , r.: Designs for a fan; v.: Studies of a woman and a man m0427, Sketch for a fan m1422 , Dancing girl, on a fan m1423 and Design for a fan m1424.
Fans appear in many of Whistler's drawings, including nude studies and portrait studies, such as Draped figure seated, holding a fan m0327, Mrs Leyland, standing holding a fan m0432, r.: Model with a Fan; v.: Draped woman with a fan m0447, Japanese lady decorating a fan m0460, A lady with a fan m0466, Female Figure with Fan m0532, Girl with a fan m0533, Female Figure with Fan m0534, The Lady with the Fan m0535, Woman with a Fan m0536, Girl with a Fan m0537 and Portrait with Fan (Design) m0557.

Fans also figure prominently in later drawings, such as Blue and Rose: The Open Fan m1233, Reclining figure with fan m1303, Nude holding a fan m1322, A woman holding a black fan m1377, r.: A woman holding a pink fan; v.: Study of a woman holding a fan m1461, A girl waving a fan m1465, A draped model reclining with a fan m1609 and A draped girl holding a fan in her left hand m1623.
Embroidered robes appear also in several pastels, including The Embroidered Robe m1224, A masked woman m1225, Design for a Mosaic m1226, The Japanese Dress m1227. Fans were an important element of fashion and composition in several oil portraits such as Lady with a Fan y352 and Red and Black: The Fan y388.

In this etching, the effect of movement, with the multiple outlines of the face and body, is reminiscent of nude and draped studies by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Rodin visited Whistler in his London studio about 1885 and in the 1890s their studios were close together in Paris, and they admired each other's work. 7

7: See e.g. J. Newton and M. MacDonald, 'Rodin. The Whistler monument', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 92, 1978, pp. 221-31; Newton 1984[more].