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James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Etching: FUMETTE(273 views)
An original James Abbott McNeill Whistler Etching.
Original etching printed in black ink on laid paper bearing an unidentified watermark (a fleur-de-lys surmounting the date "1800").
Signed in the plate lower right Whistler.
A strong and dark impression of Kennedy's fourth and final state, Glasgow’s fifth state of five, with a warm plate tone and showing touches of burr, printed after the addition of the printer's inscription to the plate lower left Imp. Delatre, Rue St. Jacques, 171. A plate from the series Douze eaux-fortes d’apres Nature (Twelve Etchings from Nature), commonly referred to as “The French Set,” one of only 75 known impressions from this plate.
Catalog: Kennedy 13 iv/iv; Glasgow 12 v/v; Mansfield 15; Grolier Club 19; Wedmore 18.
Platemark: 6 3/8 x 4 1/4 inches Sheet size: 7 7/8 x 5 1/2 inches
Fumette (or Héloïse) was the first of Whistler's European liaisons. She was a milliner, a 'grisette' in the Latin Quarter, who used to carry about with her a little basket containing her crochet work, and a volume of the poems of Alfred Musset, which she knew by heart. She and Whistler lived at a hotel on the rue de St. Sulpice. According to the Pennells, Whistler and Fumette were together for two years, not always happily; one day Fumette destroyed a cache of Whistler's drawings in a fit of anger (she was nicknamed 'the tigress' in keeping with her hot temper). She later lived with a musician, and at the end of her life was living in South America, where she had set up as a modiste.
She posed for several etchings, “Fumette” (Kennedy 13), “Fumette Standing (K. 56), Fummette's Bent Head” (K. 57), and possibly for the superb nude study “Venus” (K. 59).
Here, Whistler carefully delineates Fumette's dark eyes, sensuous mouth, and shoulder-length hair, sympathetically conveying both the vulnerability of her personality and her quiet mood of the moment. The details of her dress, with its lace collar, may convey her skills in her craft. Fumette always let her hair hang loose, not braided in the usual manner, which excited much comment at the time, and suggested that she was a bohemian or gypsy - beyond the pale of bourgeois respectability.
This etching, along with a few others from this same period in Whistler's career, show women of a recognizably low class, working women and beggars. Their clothes and attitudes define their status. In subject and treatment these etchings fit the new Realism of the time.
The final states of this and other “French Set” etchings were printed by Auguste Delâtre with nuanced tonal wiping or, as appropriate, an overall residual film of ink that provides and effect of warmth to the surface.
Condition Report: In excellent condition.
Image Size: 6 3/8 x 4 1/4 inches
Sheet Size: 7 7/8 x 5 1/2 inches
Framed Size: 18 1/4 x 15 1/2 inches
Artist or Maker: James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Literature: Robert H. Getscher, The Stamp of Whistler, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio, 1977, no. 2, p. 22 (ill.); Richard Dorment / Margaret F. MacDonald, James McNeill Whistler, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1994, no. 3, p. 65 (ill.); Margaret F. MacDonald, James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1995, cat. no. 289; Margaret F. MacDonald / Susan Grace Galassi / Aileen Ribeiro, Whistler, Women & Fashion, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2003, no. 51 p. 55 (ill.); Daniel E. Sutherland, Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2014, fig. 8 (ill.).