The Russian Schube

Portrait of a man wearing a long cloak, standing

James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
The Russian Schube, 1896
Transfer lithograph, black ink on ivory Japanese paper
11 3/4 × 8 5/8 in. (29.8 × 22 cm)
Second state of two
Printed, center right, and signed in graphite, below image, lower left: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
© The Frick Collection

 

The title refers to the voluminous coat worn by the subject, Joseph Pennell, Whistler’s friend, fellow artist, and future biographer. The image is placed at the center of the sheet in the manner of a vignette, as with many of Whistler’s lithographs. The figure’s authoritative pose may reflect the work’s original purpose as a preliminary study for a full-length painting, which was never realized. Pennell and his wife recalled that Whistler visited their London flat to draw their portraits, with several of these sessions carried out by firelight. The dramatic contrast of bright highlights and deep shadows may result from this source of illumination.