The model for this print, Josephine Durwend, was described by Beatrice Whistler as “Finette – The Creole – Dancer” (Glasgow Online Catalogue). Whistler, who owned several photographs of the famous dancer, depicts her here in lush black velvet, aptly rendered in rich, dark drypoint.
Katherine Lochnan has suggested that Whistler created this large, impressive plate in the style of the grand European portraiture tradition of Van Dyck, Hollar, and Velázquez. She also has cited the influence of John Everett Millais (Lochnan, The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler, 1984, p. 105-111). The box and mask to Finette’s right were inspired by the still-life etchings of muffs and masks by Wenceslaus Hollar, the seventeenth century etcher. The window to the figure’s left likely provides a view of Paris.
The Glasgow Online Catalogue states that there are 41 known impressions, 38 in public collections, three whereabouts unknown (this impression not known to Margaret MacDonald). As MacDonald notes on the Glasgow website, this print was one of the most in demand and expensive among all of Whistler’s graphic work during the artist’s lifetime. Examples since rarely have come onto the market. This impression is the first we have handled in our 50 years in the print business.
Harris Whittemore (ND, Waterbury, CT); to
John P. Elton (1865-1948, Waterbury, CT); and
Kennedy 58, seventh state of ten; Glasgow 61, tenth state of fourteen, before further shading and work to the window, the panelling, and in the background, and prior to cancellation