An 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." This is a strong and dark impression of Kennedy's fourth and final state, 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, apart from the album edition of 70 (20 issued in Paris, 50 issued in London, all printed on chine collé). A plate from the series Douze eaux-fortes d'apres Nature (Twelve Etchings from Nature), commonly referred to as “The French Set.” The final states of this and other “French Set” etchings were printed by Auguste Delâtre with nuanced tonal wiping or an overall residual film of ink that gives warmth to the surface. Catalogue reference: Kennedy 13 iv/iv; Mansfield 15; Grolier Club 19; Wedmore 18.
The first of Whistler's European liaisons, Fumette (Héloïse) was a milliner, or 'grisette,' in the Latin Quarter. Whistler and Fumette were together for two years, not always happily; she once destroyed a cache of Whistler's drawings in a fit of anger.
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. This etching, along with a few others from this same period in Whistler's career, show women of a recognizably low class. In subject and treatment these etchings fit the new Realism of the time.
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