J. Becquet, Sculptor

Portrait of a man with a cello

James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
J. Becquet, Sculptor, 1859
Etching and drypoint, brownish-black ink on ivory French laid paper
10 × 7 1/2 in. (25.4 × 19 cm)
Published in the Thames Set (“A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on The Thames and Other Subjects,” 1871)
Sixth state of six
Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
© The Frick Collection

 

Just Becquet, a Parisian sculptor and musician, is shown holding a cello, his eyes gazing intently at the viewer. While his head is highly detailed, other areas of the composition are more simply executed. Minimal lines delineate the instrument's form and the subject's hands; in dramatic contrast to the nearly empty space in the center of the composition, sweeping, velvety drypoint lines frame Becquet's cloak, adding depth and a sense of movement.