Couple seated at a table

Maker(s)
Artist: James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Historical period(s)
1858
Medium
Pencil on off-white wove paper
Dimensions
H x W: 16.8 x 11.8 cm (6 5/8 x 4 5/8 in)
Geography
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1898.184
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Drawing
Type

Drawing

Keywords
man, United States, woman
Provenance

Seymour Haden (1818-1910), London [1]

To 1898
H. Wunderlich & Co., New York to 1898 [2]

From 1898 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from H. Wunderlich & Co., through Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), in November 1898 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]

Notes:

[1] See Original Whistler List, Haden Collection Drawings, pg. 2, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See Voucher No. 20, November 1898, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] See note 2.

[4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Francis Seymour Haden 1818-1910
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
H. Wunderlich & Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1874-1912

Label

The anecdote implied by this scene is ambiguous. We cannot be certain whether the woman is reading a small book or holding a hand of cards. Her relationship to the smoker is not clear. However, the drawing does reveal the artist's interest in illustration during the late 1850s. A very slight underdrawing is still visible beneath the two figures, particularly in the faint outline of a head to the left of the bonneted woman and another head to the right of the hatted man. Whistler later elaborated his quick sketch, recording such details as the woman's enormous challis shawl, the plaid pattern of her skirt, and the curve of the man's pipe. Whistler created textural interest by varying the thickness of line, and he added a good deal of shading. He also vignetted the two figures in an oval composition with blank space at the corners.  Whistler continued to use this popular device, borrowed from magazine illustration, in later works-for example, some of the Venetian drawings and etchings executed in  1879-1880.

Published References
  • Margaret F. MacDonald. James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels, and Watercolours : A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, 1995. .
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 226, pl. 180.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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