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Sketches of a Girl and a Woman

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 153
Date: 1875/1876
Medium: drypoint
Size: 178 x 133 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 2
Catalogues: K.122; M.128; W.108
Impressions taken from this plate  (2)


girl, head, portrait, reading, woman.


Whistler's original title is not known. There are two recorded titles, as follows:

'Two Sketches' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 1
'Sketches of Girl and Woman' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 2

The preferred title, 'Sketches of a Girl and a Woman', is based on Mansfield's title, 'Sketches of Girl and Woman', which is considerably more helpful than that used by Wedmore, which could have covered any subject whatsoever.

1: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 108).

2: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 12).


Near the upper left corner is a seated girl, in profile to right, leaning against a cushion that projects above her head. Her head is bent slightly forward as if she was reading a book. In the lower part of the plate is a slight half-length sketch of a woman, the other way up.


Not identified. The child is the same girl seen in Sleeping Girl 127. The children of William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), particularly Cicely Henrietta Alexander (1864-1932), could have been available to pose. By this date it is less likely that the Leyland girls, such as Elinor Leyland (1861-1952) were available.


Whistler sometimes used a copper plate as he might do a sketchbook, for several studies; see, for instance, Portrait sketches including F.R. Leyland and Whistler 122, Sketches of Heads 138.