James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 - 1903)
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, painter and etcher James A. M. Whistler first studied art in Russia, where his father had temporarily moved the family. He entered and was soon dismissed from West Point, then became a draftsman working on topographical maps at the Coast and Geodetic Survey. He moved to Paris for formal study with Charles-Gabriel Gleyre and met Gustave Courbet, who, together with Whistler's personal fascination with Japanese prints, proved a dominant influence upon Whistler's evolving style.
His first series of etchings appeared in 1853 and were widely praised. In 1859, having moved to London, he began to publish his famous series of etchings of everyday life along the Thames. In time, his oriental bias began to inform both his etchings and paintings. Whistler's amorphous and fanciful landscape paintings of the mid-1870s, which he described as “nocturnes”, provoked indignant reviews by conservative critics, provoking a successful but costly lawsuit for slander against John Ruskin, which bankrupted Whistler. He traveled to Venice and there produced another famous series of etchings, which helped to restore his fortunes.
Returning to London in 1895, his popularity with the British people restored, Whistler's work met with eager and enthusiastic demand. Failing health led to a decline in his productivity, and he died there in 1903.
A richly inked etching and drypoint in black on cream laid paper, 1859; second of two states. Image size 6” x 8-7/8” with full margins. Signed and titled in the plate. Drouet was a sculptor, collector, and lifelong friend. Kenedy 55; Glasgow 35.
Etching in dark brown ink on cream laid Japan paper, 1859; edition not stated. image size 8-7/8” x 6”; sheet size 10-7/8” x 8”. Signed and dated in the plate. Ninth state of nine, prior to cancellation. A superb, well-inked impression with all the fine lines distinct. Kennedy 47; Glasgow 51.