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James Abbott McNeill Whistler
'En Plein Soleil' from the French Set, 'Douze eau-fortes d'apres Nature'

1858

About the Item

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 'En Plein Soleil' from the French Set (Douze eau-fortes d'apres Nature), etching, 1858, edition 61, 4th state of 4, Kennedy 15. Signed in the plate, lower left, and a faint Whistler with 's' reversed, upper left corner. Annotated in the plate, lower right, 'Imp. Delatre. Rue St. Jacques. 171.' (the J reversed). A superb, finely detailed impression, in warm black ink, on antique cream laid paper, with margins (1/2 to 7/8 inch); a small spot of toning to the right of the umbrella, otherwise in very good condition. An early impression, before the clipping of the plate corners, with the upside-down signature in the plate upper left and the diagonal scratch through the clouds at right, distinct, and with very strong contrasts, no sign of wear and the patch of foul-biting lower-left prominent. Printed by Auguste Delâtre, Paris. Image size 3 15/16 x 5 15/16 inches (101 x 135 mm); sheet size 5 1/4 x 6 3/8 inches (133 x 162 mm). Matted to museum standards, unframed. Whistler probably captured this image of a grisette (working girl) holding a parasol, in the countryside near Paris (the title translates to ("In Full Sun"). Realist and naturalist ideas circulating among artists in France influenced his unsentimental and unidealized approach. The artist made the etching in the summer of 1858 before setting out in mid-August to tour the Rhineland. In November, it was included in "Douze eau-fortes d'apres Nature" ("Twelve etchings from Nature"), known as the "French Set". As part of a published set, this became a fairly well-known print. It was first shown in an exhibition of the work of contemporary artists at The Hague in 1863. An impression was shown in Whistler's one-man show in London in 1874 and was praised by the critic of The Builder. Another impression toured with the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) to Liverpool and elsewhere in the same year. It was seen in public exhibitions, such as in Philadelphia in 1879, and in private clubs, for the connoisseur. Impressions were also seen in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death: at the Groller Club in New York in 1904 and in Paris in 1905. King Edward VII lent a French Set including 'En Plein Soleil' to the London Memorial Exhibition in 1905. Impressions of this work are in the following museum collections: Art Institute of Chicago; Cleveland Art Museum; Davis Museum (Wellesley College); Detroit Institute of Arts Museum; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Harvard Art Museums; Library of Congress; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of New-Zealand; National Gallery of Art; Oklahoma City Museum of Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Smithsonian National Museum; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; University of Cambridge Museums; University of Glasgow Art Museum; Victoria and Albert Museum (London).
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