All Objects

  • sketch of a portrait of woman in a crouched position

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Fumette, 1858
    Etching and drypoint, black ink on cream French laid paper
    6 3/8 × 4 1/4 in. (16.3 × 10.9 cm)
    Published in the French Set (“Twelve Etchings from Nature,” 1858)
    Fifth state of five
    Signed at lower right in plate: “Whistler”
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    Whistler's mistress, nicknamed Fumette, was his model for this print. She embodies the grisette, a working-class woman of Paris, demonstrating Whistler's realist tendencies at this time. With its lace collar, fitted bodice, full skirt, and apron, Fumette's costume may indicate her occupation as a seamstress or Whistler's budding fashion interests. Her loosened hair and informal crouched position accentuate her bohemian character, while her calm expression belies her reportedly fiery temper, which prompted Whistler to call her "the tigress."

  • sketch of wine glass on circular tray

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    The Wine Glass, 1859
    Etching, black ink on thin, cream Japanese paper
    3 1/4 × 2 1/8 in. (8.3 × 5.5 cm)
    Second state of two
    Signed at lower left in plate: “Whistler”
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    The diminutive size of The Wine Glass belies its importance as Whistler's only still-life etching among the nearly five hundred works he produced in this medium. He likely made it in London while staying with his half-sister Deborah and her husband, Sir Francis Seymour Haden, a physician and an etcher himself with an extensive print collection. Whistler may have been trying to emulate the shading and precision of Old Master etchings, which would have been readily available to him. He may also have inspired Haden, who one month later made his own drawing of a wine glass.

  • reclining nude woman

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Venus, 1859
    Etching and drypoint, black ink on ivory laid paper
    6 × 9 in. (15.2 × 22.8 cm)
    Second state of two
    Signed at lower left in plate: “Whistler. 1859.”
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    The model for this sensuous nude on a disheveled bed is Fumette. The figure's unidealized, voluptuous form evokes Courbet's realist nudes, while the pose may refer to Rembrandt's famous etching Jupiter and Antiope. A deep appreciation for the Dutch master's prints was at the heart of the Etching Revival and central to Whistler's development. In Venus, the faint imprint of another figure is seen upside down in the lower right hand corner.

  • 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.

  • Wharf scene with fishing boats and figures

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Billingsgate, 1859
    Etching and drypoint, black ink on cream Japanese paper
    6 × 8 7/8 in. (15.2 × 22.4 cm)
    Published in numerous editions, including “The Portfolio,” 1878
    Eighth state of nine
    Signed at lower right in plate: “Whistler. 1859.”
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    Five workers stand or sit along the stern of a barge at the lower left foreground of the bustling scene. At far left, figures ascend a staircase to Billingsgate fish market, while throngs of people enjoying the wharf's view press against a railing. Across the middle ground stretches a succession of ten moored fishing boats, their bold vertical masts a striking juxtaposition to the rhythmic horizontal arches of London Bridge behind them. Billingsgate was highly acclaimed and widely published.

  • Bar with seated figures and bottles on the tables

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Soupe à Trois Sous, 1859
    Etching, black ink on cream Japanese gampi paper, laid down on white Japanese paper
    6 × 9 in. (15.2 × 22.8 cm)
    Only state
    Signed at upper right in plate: “Whistler.–”
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    In an inexpensive Parisian cafe (as implied by the print's title), five men sit in various states of repose. Although the dark curly hair, mustache, and beard of the figure at left led one early critic to identify him as Whistler, he is in fact modeled after Henri Martin, a former soldier. The watchful young man seems out of place in his surroundings, unlike his nocturnal companions, whose features are largely hidden or dulled by the alcohol in the conspicuously placed bottles. The fibrous gampi paper support imparts a warm tone, perhaps suggesting the glow from the overhead gaslight.

  • Panoramic seascape with buildings in background
    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    La Salute: Dawn, 1879−80
    Etching, brown ink on cream Dutch laid paper
    5 × 7 7/8 in. (12.7 × 20.1 cm)
    Published in the Second Venice Set (“A Set of Twenty-Six Etchings by James A. McN. Whistler,” 1886)
    Fourth state of four
    Signed at left in plate and in graphite in tab at lower left: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection
     

    Whistler wrote his mother, "I am at my work the first thing at dawn and the last thing at night." These unusual hours were likely inspired by his desire to render Venice's dawning and dwindling light. Whistler divides his composition into three distinctive bands of sky, land, and water. He visually compresses three iconic sites — (from left to right) San Marco with its bell tower, the domed Santa Maria della Salute, and the Palladian Church of San Giorgio Maggiore — into a single continuous form, seemingly executed without lifting his etching needle from the plate. As in many prints, this image reverses the actual view.

  • Misty seascape with buildings in the background

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Sunset: Venice, 1880
    Chalk and pastel on beige paper
    4 5/8 × 9 3/4 in. (11.7 × 24.8 cm)
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection

     

    From his house on the Riva degli Schiavoni, Whistler evokes, in a delicate scribbled line, the familiar forms of Santa Maria della Salute and the Dogana at the center and the Giudecca on the left, fading into evening light. Touches of blue, orange, and white in the sky add movement and a sense of fleeting time as the sun's last rays disappear. In the foreground, reflections of the buildings convey the water's depth and transparency, while strokes of white suggest its shimmering surface. Whistler's extraordinary economy of means here is characteristic of the pastels carried out later in his stay. The artist referred to them as "beauties."

  • Large ship with three masts on the water, with buildings in the background

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Nocturne, 1879/80
    Etching and drypoint, brownish-black ink on cream laid paper
    8 × 11 3/4 in. (20.3 × 29.8 cm)
    Published in the First Venice Set (“Venice: Twelve Etchings,” 1880)
    Ninth state of nine
    Signed in graphite, in tab at lower left: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    This atmospheric scene, looking across the Bacino di San Marco toward the Giudecca Canal, concentrates on the basin's reflective surface and the darkening sky. The land, buildings, and floating crafts—a nearly abstract progression of peaks and dips—separate water from air. The famous edifice of San Giorgio Maggiore at right and the large sailing boat at left are represented in shadowy silhouette by vertical lines. By manipulating the ink on the plate, Whistler conveys the encroaching twilight.

  • Archway over a canal with boats on the water

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    San Biagio, 1880
    Etching and drypoint, brownish-black ink on ivory laid paper
    8 3/8 × 12 in. (21.3 × 30.6 cm)
    Published in the Second Venice Set (“A Set of Twenty-Six Etchings by James A. McN. Whistler,” 1886)
    Seventeenth state of seventeen
    Signed at left in plate and in graphite in tab at lower left: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    Beyond the water-filled foreground, a sunlit facade of varied textures stretches across the surface of the print. An adjoining piazza is glimpsed through a deeply shadowed archway in this working-class area. Hanging laundry connects two spatial realms. Throughout, local residents go about their activities. Delicately etched lines combine with darker accents of drypoint and tone, added in the printing process, to create atmospheric effects.  A reviewer of the time commented on Whistler's "masterly treatment . . . of the transparency of the water . . . which in etching is little short of surprising."

  • Bridge over a canal with buildings on either side

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Ponte del Piovan, 1879/80
    Etching and drypoint, brownish-black ink on cream laid paper
    9 × 6 in. (22.9 × 15.2 cm)
    Published in the Second Venice Set (“A Set of Twenty-Six Etchings by James A. McN. Whistler,” 1886)
    Fifth state of six
    Signed in graphite, in tab at lower left: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    Whistler drew this from a gondola, looking down the canal to the Ponte del Piovan, also called Ponte del Volto. This view was popular among artists, as Titian is said to have died in one of the houses at left. Strong horizontal and vertical architectural elements dominate this meticulously rendered scene. The arch of the bridge and its piers frame the water below, as well as the background scene, in which figures walk through an arcade by the waterway. A flurry of drypoint lines suggests reflections on the river as well as clouds in the sky.

  • Scene on a riverside with sailboats

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Hurlingham, 1879
    Etching and drypoint, black ink on cream laid paper
    5 3/8 × 7 7/8 in. (13.7 × 20.1 cm)
    Published by The Printseller’s Association, January 1879
    Fourth state of four
    Signed at lower left in plate: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    A busy locale on the Thames, Hurlingham Park was an intersection of industrial and leisure activities where both barges and rowboats lined the bank. Using richly inked drypoint lines, Whistler draws attention to two sails and their reflections. A band of boats cuts across the middle of the composition, creating a strong horizontal line repeated in the gentle disturbances on the river's tranquil surface. The bold, abstract forms in the foreground are set off by a more delicately rendered landscape along the shore.

  • 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.

  • Canal scene with buildings reflected in the water

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Vitré: The Canal, 1893
    Transfer lithograph, black ink on ivory laid paper
    12 × 7 1/2 in. (30.5 × 19 cm)
    Only state
    Printed, center right on side of house: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    Whistler drew this view of Vitré’s picturesque architecture during a summer spent in Brittany. The foreground is dominated by the canal, heavily shaded in contrast to the sunlit medieval structures that border it. A single figure in Breton dress occupies the scene at left. In the background, a pattern of light and dark represents the rooftops of houses ascending the hill. Responding to his printer about the first proofs he received, Whistler exclaimed, "They are most delicate and beautifully printed . . . There is a delightful velvety quality about them." Whistler achieved this soft effect with a stump—a tool for blending and shading.

  • Street scene of rag shop and figures

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    Chelsea Rags, 1890
    Transfer lithograph, black ink on cream wove paper, originally ivory
    9 1/8 × 7 in. (23.3 × 17.7 cm)
    Published in The Albemarle, January 1892
    Only state
    Printed, center right: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    Whistler lived in London’s working-class neighborhood of Chelsea for four decades. Like many Chelsea shops represented in his lithographic oeuvre, this one recalls his early realist subjects. Whistler emphasizes the strong geometry of the shop’s facade, made even more striking by the contrast with the limp, crinkled fabrics hanging below and next to the windows. This print is one of many lithographs by Whistler that were published in periodicals during and after his lifetime.

  • woman sleeping in chair

    James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
    La Belle Dame Endormie, 1894
    Transfer lithograph, black ink on ivory laid paper
    12 3/4 × 8 1/8 in. (32.3 × 20.6 cm)
    Only state
    Printed, center left, and signed in graphite, below image, at lower right: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
    Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
    © The Frick Collection

     

    Working on transfer paper with broad, rapid strokes of a lithographic crayon, Whistler captured his wife, Beatrice, resting on an armchair in their Paris apartment. The artist’s sureness of touch reveals his extraordinary skill as a draftsman and the intimacy of his connection with his subject. Already ill with cancer, Beatrice would die two years after this print was published. This poignant work is printed on old laid paper removed from a book of blank sheets, giving it the look of a drawing pulled from a sketchbook. To his printer, Whistler wrote, "this is, certainly, at present, my favorite lithograph."